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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2019

    Default Who Pays Veterinary Bills After a Dog Fight at a Dog Park

    My question involves an injury that occurred in the state of: Texas. While at a dog park, our dog and another dog got in a fight. The other dog received wounds to its hind leg and ours was injured on her face and back. While trying to separate the dogs, the owner of the other dog was bit. After the dogs were separated, I sent the owner our dog's rabies vaccination records. We received a call from the police department and they said animal control would be in contact with us but never heard anything from them. Today (a month later) we received a letter from the owners of the other dog demanding $507 for emergency vet fees. Are we responsible for these fees?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2014

    Default Re: Who Pays the Vet Bills After a Dog Fight at a Dog Park

    Quote Quoting justwilliams
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    Are we responsible for these fees?
    That depends on the details of what happened. In order for you to be liable, you must have been negligent in some way. Was your dog on a leash? How about the other dog, was it on a leash? If not on a leash, did you have the dog under control some other way? Which dog attacked first? Was that dog provoked? Does your dog or the other dog have any history of fighting other dogs? You both were responsible for keeping your dogs under control at the park to ensure they don't attack other dogs or people. If you failed to keep your dog under control and it was clearly the attacking dog then you may indeed be liable.

    However, even if you are liable, whether you'd have to pay all of the $507 in vet bills would depend on Texas case law. The longtime traditional view is that pets are property and regarded in the law just like a TV set or toaster. When property gets damaged all the owner is typically entitled to get is the lesser of what it costs to repair the item or to replace it with the same or similar item of like quality. Most pets have little value; it's hard to even give them away. However, the law has started to move in the direction of recognizing that pets have a special emotional value to their owners that they don't have for other property and the courts of some states have started to allow more recovery of vet bills in this kind of situation. I've not researched where Texas law is on that.

    You may ignore their letter and if they sue you in small claims court then you can appear, state your defense, and see what the court says. If you think they are liable for any vet bills you have, you could counter claim for that.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2013

    Default Re: Who Pays the Vet Bills After a Dog Fight at a Dog Park

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
    View Post
    I've not researched where Texas law is on that.
    Texas uses two different standards in recovery of damages in pet cases; Cost to Repair and Diminished Value.

    Pets are still considered property in Texas but also a special form of personal property where if the utility of the pet is not restored, diminished value can be used.

    the Supreme Court of Texas has "recognized pet dogs as `property in the eyes of the law,' and a `special form of personal property.'" Lira v. Greater Hous. German Shepherd Dog Rescue, Inc., 488 S.W.3d 300, 304 (Tex. 2016) (citing Strickland v. Medlen, 397 S.W.3d 184, 185, 192 (Tex. 2013)),44

    So assuming that both dogs have recovered, the cost to repair standard (the vet bills) are likely the only damages. If both dogs have vet bills, likely a wash in damages and not worth it to litigate.

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