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Did Your Dog Bite Another Dog?

Published August 8, 2014 by Scott Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney
Two dogs fighting

Dogs are one the most popular types of pet in the United States. There are over 70 million pet dogs, in 51 million households. Owners enjoy having pet dogs around as they offer companionship. Others have dogs for more practical reasons such as personal security.

Along with the benefits of having a dog, there are sometimes problems, such as when a dog attacks another dog.

Puppies often bite other dogs as part of being playful. Adult dogs bite other dogs for many different reasons such as to mark territory, as a form of communication, over food, for attention, or to show dominance in a pack.

In the warmer seasons, as more people take their dogs to public areas, dog bite incidents tend to be more frequent.

What to Do If Your Dog Bites Another Dog, or a Person

If your dog bites another dog, there are steps that you should take to help both you and the owner of the injured dog get through an emotional, difficult situation as smoothly as possible.

However, if your dog has also injured a person, you should be careful about admitting responsibility. It is a good idea to show compassion.

In New York, a dog must have a documented history of hurting people for an owner to be liable in an attack on a person.

Dog Bite Wounds

Dog bite wounds account for roughly 10% of the traumatic injuries treated by veterinarians. Dogs typically have strong jaws so that a bite can not only damage skin, but also crush or tear muscles.

Bites to the chest can puncture the lungs. Bites to the face can cause serious damage to the ears, eyes, and mouth. Neck wounds can damage arteries, veins, the esophagus and the trachea.

Furthermore, dog saliva is full of dangerous bacteria. Any bite that ruptures the skin may become contaminated and infected. An infected wound can lead to very serious, life-threatening conditions such as abscesses, tissue infection, bone infection, and pus in the chest or abdominal cavity.

Helping an Injured Dog

When someone’s pet is injured, emotions run high. If you are the owner of the attacking dog, the best course of action is to remain calm, show compassion and be as cooperative as possible. Remember to be cautious about admitting

Here are additional steps to take:

  • Get your dog under control. Do whatever you can to stop the attack and restrain your dog.
  • Exchange contact information with the owner of the other dog
  • Offer assistance to the dog owner, such as volunteering to take the injured dog to the nearest animal hospital
  • Contact the local animal control agency to report the incident and follow the instructions given to you.
  • Get your pet’s medical records to show proof of immunizations

Legal Liability

While rules vary between jurisdictions, you may be legally liable if your negligence resulted in the other dog being bitten. For example, if your dog entered the property of the owner of the injured dog, you would be held liable. The same is true if your dog was not properly leashed, fenced in or otherwise controlled.

Furthermore, if your dog has a history of attacking other pets or people, you will be considered “on notice” that your dog is dangerous. If it turns out that you are legally liable, you will have to pay for the injured dog’s medical expenses. In some cases, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies cover dog bites. However, in cases where the dog is a particularly dangerous dog such as a pit bull or Rottweiler, then insurance may not cover bites.

An added twist to the dog-biting-dog scenario is where the owner of the attacked dog injures your (the attacking) dog in the process of trying to rescue his or her dog. In that case, the owner of the attacked dog may be liable to you for your dog’s injuries.

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