Cape Coral, FL asked in Animal / Dog Law and Personal Injury for Florida

Q: A dog attacked my cat on my property. Now my cat is missing. What all can I do

My neighbors on the side of her dog viciously attacked my cat. I have video proof of the dog in the cat in the altercation. My neighbor behind me was the one that broke up the altercation. I confronted my neighbor on the side. Showed her video documentation that it was her dog that attacked my cat. Now my cat is missing, I search for four hours, hoping to find him. And the way that dog was shaking my cat. I know the damage that was done my cat did not survive. I called animal control for documentation purposes. But at the end of the day he was like my son. I can’t just get a new cat.

2 Lawyer Answers
Charles M.  Baron
Charles M. Baron
  • Animal & Dog Law Lawyer
  • Hollywood, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: The dog owner is legally responsible for the vet bills, which you should first present to the owner to try to amicably resolve the matter, and if not settled, you can sue the owner in small claims court, assuming the amount is $8,000 or less. If the dog is owned by a couple, you would sue both individuals.

Sorry to hear your cat is missing. Are you blaming the dog owner for your cat running away and never coming back? If so, that would be very tough to prove if you permitted the cat to freely take off outdoors. If you were miraculously able to prove it, your damage would be the fair market value of your cat (plus vet bills paid due to the attack). Hope you find your cat; check with shelters and put up posters. Also hope you microchipped your cat; if not, and you get him/her back, it's a good thing to do.

Terrence H Thorgaard agrees with this answer

1 user found this answer helpful

A: You can sue for the fair market value of the cat. A pet owner has a legal duty to confine their pet with a leash or inside a fenced enclosure sufficient to prevent the pet from escaping. You might have to address why you can’t find your cat, but the video may be sufficient to persuade a jury that the dog killed the cat. If the cat was not inside a proper fenced enclosure (which seems likely, as one would most likely have also kept the dog out), you might face a claim of contributory responsibility which could reduce your recovery by your percentage of responsibility as determined by a jury.

The key to whether you ought to legally pursue this claim is what is the fair market value of the cat, which depends on its breed and pedigree. A common domestic house cat can be purchased for a small price; a multi-award winning prize pure bred with breeding potential costs more.

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