What happens when my dog bites another dog?

As an animal lover, you think of your dog as a member of the family. Just like a beloved relative, you make sure he gets everything he needs to live a happy life. Connecticut state laws have a slightly different perspective when it comes to man’s best friend.

Connecticut General Statutes, Chapter 435, § 22-350 defines your dog as “property.” In all respects, the law treats them as property. When your dog bites another dog, legally it’s one person’s property damaging another person’s property.

Who is responsible when your dog bites another dog?

When your dog bites another dog, think of it the way you’d think of an auto accident. When one car damages another, the person in control of the car is responsible.

Just like the operator of a car, you or your dog’s caretaker are or should be in control of your dog at all times. You’re responsible if your dog bites another dog. There are a few exceptions listed in §22-357.

  • A Trespasser: In most situations, you are not responsible if your dog attacks a dog whose owner is trespassing or committing a crime on your property.
  • Teasing, Taunting, Abusing: You are not responsible for your dog’s actions if the person accompanying the bitten dog was teasing, taunting, or abusing your dog.
  • Law Enforcement Dog: A person doesn’t have the right to recover damages from a member of your household who is caring for a dog owned by a police department or other governmental entity. If the dog bites another dog, the statute assumes that the household member did not have exclusive control of the dog at the time. This makes it difficult for the owner of an injured dog to recover damages.

What damages do you owe when your dog bites another dog?

The damage can be pretty serious. You will owe for the injured dog’s veterinary care, surgical costs, and related expenses. If the injured dog is a “companion animal,” damages may also include training and other costs.

What should you do when your dog bites another dog

When your dog bites another dog (or a person), it often becomes legally complicated. If you have a homeowners or renters insurance policy, you may have liability coverage that will pay on your behalf. You should immediately turn a claim into your insurance company. In most cases, the claim department will investigate the incident, determine if you are legally liable, and pay the claim.

Some insurance companies have changed their insurance policies in response to an increase in dog bite claims.

  • Some policies limit or exclude liability coverage for damages or injuries caused by certain dog breeds.
  • Some companies that exclude dog-related incidents will add dog bite liability to your policy for an additional premium.
  • Other policies exclude dog-related claims altogether.
  • Some insurers don’t exclude coverage for dog bites until it becomes a problem. If your dog bites someone, your insurer may exclude dogs from your liability coverage when it’s time to renew your policy.

If you’re uncertain about your insurance company’s position on coverage for dog-related injuries or damage, you should talk to your insurance agent or a company representative before an incident occurs.

As dog bites involve complicated legal issues, you may wish to consult with an attorney if your dog bites another dog or a person.

Hebron Veterinary Hospital

Reach out to us if you have any further questions or if you need to schedule an appointment. Call us at (860) 228-4324.