Innocent Bystander Injured by Fighting Dogs

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An acquaintance of mine named Fred recently parked his car, got out and was putting coins into a parking meter. Two individuals were walking nearby with their pets with retractor reel leashes. One was a 45 pound mixed breed dog, the other a 60 pound pit bull mix with a macho spike collar. As they passed by Fred, the dogs went after each other, and the one with the collar raked and punctured Fred’s leg with his collar. Fred, who takes a blood anticoagulant for a heart condition, immediately suffered bleeding and severe damage to one leg and was taken by ambulance to a hospital where he was admitted for a week for surgical care of his leg and for attention to his cardiac condition while the anticoagulant was discontinued. The cost: over $20,000.

Was this just “a horrible accident”? Of course, neither pet owner wanted something like this to happen. In addition to Fred’s issues, both dogs ended up at veterinary offices for treatment of fight wounds. Because of the substantial injuries and costs, this case ended up in court.

The judge cited both owners for failure to control their pets in a public place and for endangering the public. Until proof that both owners could insure their ability to protect the public, the judge required the local animal control officer to remove both pets from their owners. An analysis of what transpired would have been fodder for Denny Crane of Boston Legal.

  • One of the dog owners was talking on a cell phone and was distracted from controlling his dog.
  • The other owner was a petite woman who did not have the strength to control her pet in public except when he was being non-threatening 95% of the time. When challenged by another pet, she was totally unable to restrain her dog.
  • Neither pet had any kind of halter device or choke chain to enhance its owner’s abilities to control the dog.

After a thorough case review the judge required both people:

  • to either give up their animals or receive proper instruction in animal control (which they both opted for);
  • to purchase and maintain liability insurance; and,
  • advised both that if either dog were involved in a public dispute again he would remove that dog from its owner permanently.

Although unfortunate incidents can happen, this does not waive the obligation for a dog owner to be responsible for their pet and to be liable for damages caused by that pet. Feeling sorry or reimbursing someone for an incident does not make up for damage done.

What are your thoughts about this case?


© Dr. Charles A. Cohen and PetsOnTime, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Dr. Cohen and/or PetsOnTime is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Dr. Charles A. Cohen and PetsOnTime with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Innocent Bystander Injured by Fighting Dogs
This post has 1 comment.
  1. V. A. Callahan says:

    Dr. Cohen’s posts are beautifully written and crafted. This is very helpful, important information for anyone who loves their pets. Great job!

    Love your site, BTW!

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