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  1. #1

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    Who is at fault? (dog fight)

    This afternoon I was sitting on my couch watching television when I hear the yelps of a dog. I looked outside and see this tiny dog being attacked by a much larger dog. The tiny dog was some kind of poodle mix and the bigger one was a Boxer or something similar. I run to the front door and am about to go grab a broom and I see a woman running and jumping on the dogs. Her dog was the big one and she was literally on the ground fighting with all of her strength to get the dog to let go of its bite on the poodle. The poodle finally gets loose and runs home only to have the dog chase it down again in the garage with the owners right there watching everything happen! They finally get the dogs a part and the poodle runs inside, bleeding but hopefully with nothing life threatening.

    My question is, who is responsible? The boxer was on a leash but somehow broke free. The girl says she doesn't know how it happened, she was so incredibly upset and felt very guilty and I do not think she was lying. Plus, she had the leash in her hand so unless she likes to just carry the leash around for fun, I tend to believe that he was leashed at some point. How he broke free is anyone's guess. The issue here is the poodle. This dog runs the neighborhood all the time and is NEVER on a leash. I have had to stop my car in the middle of the street many times to wait for it to move. Can one person be held responsible for her dog attacking another when neither was on a leash? If anything, she can prove from witness accounts that she did have the dog on a leash but it got off somehow.

    I just feel bad for both involved, for the poor tiny puppy who was nearly killed (I hope the dog is OK, I haven't seen them since) and for the girl who was clearly full of guilt at what her dog did. She said she was walking her dog, this poodle came around the corner and barked at her and then her dog took off. I guess he was defending his Master so I have a hard time even blaming the Boxer. Just curious, I wouldn't be surprised if we get a knock at our door in the coming days from one or both of the parties involved since we were witnesses.
    -Brian
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    I think it's hard to say. If the boxer had been leashed on the walk, then I don't think his owner would technically be at fault if he somehow got free.

    I will say that if the poodle is always unleashed doesn't look good for the owners. You never know if there's a car or an unfriendly dog or even unfriendly person around the corner.

    My parents have a golden retriever who's very dog aggressive. You bet we always have him on a leash and we're always on the lookout when we walk him. We always always warn other dog owners that our dog will not play nice with their dog, no matter how innocent he looks.

    Still, there have been times where my mom doesn't see another dog in time and he lunges. I think once or twice he even lunged so hard my mom fell. He's not a large golden retriever, but dogs can be VERY strong for their size.

    Needless to say, unleashed dogs are our worst nightmare. When you try to be as responsible as you can, it can be all undone by someone else's ignorance.

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    I don't know legally who's at fault, but just IMO, it would be the poodle's owners. I know in La it is illegal to let your dog run around unless in a designated dog park (or obviously your own fenced in property). If the poodle's owners hadn't let him run free, the incident would not have happened. For the boxer, it might be a one-off. For the
    poodle, it was just a matter of time before something like that happened, and it probably will again. Next time it might be a car. And god forbid a kid does something to upset it and it attacks the child.

    As someone who has owned dogs literally all my life, people who let their dogs run wild on purpose all over makes me so I can't stand it.

    As for the dog breaking free, like any other creature, when there's adrenaline pumping, the dog could have broken the leash. Seeing a loose dog, especially if both were unfixed, could cause that kind of reaction.
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    Dogs running around unleashed are just asking for trouble. And it is not the dog's fault.

    Also if you know your dog is aggressive, it should be muzzled, regardless of whether the breed is required to be or not. In Australia racing greyhounds are required as they do have a habit of chasing small furry things. But with people they generally wouldn't hurt a fly. Still I don't have a problem with that.
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    I'd put the blame on the owner of the boxer for the following reasons:
    . It's the bigger dog.
    . It obviously has aggression toward other dogs.
    . The dog should've been obediently trained to follow command pronto. Doesn't matter if the other dog was barking. The girl should've been able to command "Sit. Stay." and had the dog obeyed it.
    . The owner is reponsible for making sure that the lease the dog is on is secure. It's non execusable to say "oops, the lease broke." You have to make sure the lease could control your dog before you buy it.

  6. #6

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    Orbitz, I think you make some valid points but your first bullet is not a reason for fault. So, in any situation is the bigger dog always to blame? If the small dog attacked and killed the bigger dog, with the bigger dog being on a leash, would the bigger dog still be at fault just for being bigger? That isn't a sound argument at all, IMO.
    -Brian
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    I'd think both are at fault here. The poodle for being out, on it's own, and unleashed. Even if the owners were watching, the poodle was literally fending for itself while the Boxer attacked.

    The Boxer's owner is also responsible for the attack because the leash wasn't secured. Even if it was an accident, I think she'd still be liable. However, since the poodle was also unsecured, I don't know how much she'd be responsible for.
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    BB - has anyone ever rung animal control about the poodle running around loose all of the time? I would have thought this to be illegal for many reasons (fighting with other dogs, but also the possibility of biting a person, causing car accidents etc.)

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    To me both are at fault. The poddle shouldn't have run unleashed and when you walk a dog on leash you're supposed to be able to control it. Train your dogs and if you are a tiny little twig, train it twice if you chose a St Bernard...
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    Leash law will get the poodle owner as all cities and states have a law on the books requiring dogs to be on leashes. The boxer owner will be nabbed for unable to control an aggressive or vicious dog.

    Both owners will have fines. I would guess the boxer will be ordered to be destroyed.

    It doesn't seem fair to the poodle it was attacked but the owner was breaking the law.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOIJTO View Post
    I would guess the boxer will be ordered to be destroyed.
    I'm not sure of the laws, but is it in ALL cases where a dog attacks another dog that the attacker would be put down? There was a Rottweiler in a neighboring town that attacked several people unleashed and it took a court fight for the dog to finally be put down. I'm sure laws vary some but for the Boxer to have attacked an unleashed dog, I wouldn't think that's automatic cause for the Boxer to be put down.

    That said, the poodle should have been leashed if it was outside. If you let your dog roam free, you're asking for trouble. If the poodle is unleashed all the time, I'd put more fault on the poodle owner but the Boxer owner does have some responsibility. It's unfortunate all around.

    I'll admit, having been knocked down and bitten on the forehead by an unleashed dog as a kid, I'm not a dog person. And unleashed free roaming dogs are a big pet peeve of mine; it's incredibly irresponsible.

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    This is a tricky situation but it's dependent on whether any of the dogs were on a leash. If the larger dog was indeed on a leash during the walk, then the poodle's owners are at fault. Whether the larger dog has agression issues or not, if he was on a leash, the smaller dog is at fault. I say this as someone who was a proud owner of a very large (and dog agressive) Akita and worked with a pitbull rescue group for many years.

    I had a lovely instance where I was walking my Akita (on a leash) and a smaller dog ran up (off leash) and proceeded to attack my dog! Yes, my Akita was dog aggressive, but she was on a leash and she was being provoked. Who's at fault here? Definitely not me! I also had many instances where I was walking the pitbulls I was working with (always on leash) and would have little dogs run towards them (off leash), which was never a good thing since if anything happens to the little dog, somehow, even if the pitbull is on a leash, it's automatically assumed to be at fault.

    One thing I would say though, is that in each of these situations, I was strong enough to hang on to my dog. This isn't an easy situation because essentially you have to figure out a way to get the smaller dog away while hanging on to your own, but the fact that this dog was able to break away from its owner worries me and suggests that the owner is either not strong enough to hang on to the dog or the dog isn't very well trained. Regardless, I would say the poodle's owners are at fault, but the owner of the bigger dog should take the dog to obedience training.

    Unfortunately though, because the larger dog's owner couldn't control it, if the situation is escalated, this dog may end up UNFAIRLY having to pay the ultimate price.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MOIJTO View Post

    Both owners will have fines. I would guess the boxer will be ordered to be destroyed.
    .
    Only if it attacked a human. There's nothing that would be done for a dog fight especially if both dogs were loose. If the poodle was leashed and attacked, maybe, otherwise both are at fault and there would be nothing done. The only way a court would even order compensation would be if the poodle was a show dog that could be proven to have monetary value. It clearly isn't. Nothing will come of this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rfisher View Post
    Only if it attacked a human. There's nothing that would be done for a dog fight especially if both dogs were loose. If the poodle was leashed and attacked, maybe, otherwise both are at fault and there would be nothing done. The only way a court would even order compensation would be if the poodle was a show dog that could be proven to have monetary value. It clearly isn't. Nothing will come of this.
    I believe the boxer was leashed and the poodle was not. The owner of the boxer is going to pay a very big fine because they were unable to control the dog, as is the owner of the poodle for not having it leashed.

    That may be the extent of what is done, but I do not know the specific laws of that city and there may be more on the books about "vicious dogs".
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    Quote Originally Posted by mashenka82 View Post
    One thing I would say though, is that in each of these situations, I was strong enough to hang on to my dog. This isn't an easy situation because essentially you have to figure out a way to get the smaller dog away while hanging on to your own, but the fact that this dog was able to break away from its owner worries me and suggests that the owner is either not strong enough to hang on to the dog or the dog isn't very well trained. Regardless, I would say the poodle's owners are at fault, but the owner of the bigger dog should take the dog to obedience training.
    My dog becomes aggressive toward other dogs only when the other dogs show aggression first. If are walking and another dog calmly passes us, my dog takes absolutely no notice. However, if the other dog starts barking and jumping, it sets my dog off. I hate it when unleashed dogs run up to us, because my dog takes the running toward us as a sign of aggression. We don't encounter unleashed dogs often (my community has a leash law), but when it does happen, I am thankful that I am able to hang on to my dog.

    In the situation that BB witnessed, I am inclined to say both owners were at fault. Really, though, I want to say that I think the poodle's owners should be fined and have the dog taken away. I consider it abusive to let your dog run free all the time. Not only are there dangers from other dogs and cars, there may be dangers from wild animals. A poodle probably couldn't hold its own against a coyote. Unfortunately, that poor little dog probably won't get to live a normal life span if its owners are so irresponsible.

    As to putting dogs down for attacks on other dogs, my former boss had an electric fence, and her dog was in the backyard when the neighbor's dog came into the yard. Her dog killed the neighbor's dog. It was a shame and she felt bad, but she was not told that she had to put the dog down. I really don't know what punishment she received, if any.

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    I believe there is a difference when a dog enters someones private property, from the sound of this incident they were on public property walking.

    No doubt both are at fault and will be fined for their individual offenses. But the owner of the Poodle can sue the owner of the boxer for recompense and for damages. It could possible end in the boxer being put down. Or the owner of the boxer can sue the poodle for the same thing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bev Johnston View Post
    My dog becomes aggressive toward other dogs only when the other dogs show aggression first. If are walking and another dog calmly passes us, my dog takes absolutely no notice. However, if the other dog starts barking and jumping, it sets my dog off. I hate it when unleashed dogs run up to us, because my dog takes the running toward us as a sign of aggression. We don't encounter unleashed dogs often (my community has a leash law), but when it does happen, I am thankful that I am able to hang on to my dog.
    This. It's innate. In a just world, the poodle owner in this fracas would not be successful in filing a complaint here. It's a dog's nature to feel threatened when he is leashed or crated, and another dog -- esp. an unleashed one without his owner -- encroaches. Dogs know the difference, and sense the disadvantage. OTOH, when he's unleashed (re: dog park) and a similar "greeting" were to occur, I'm very sure that nothing would have happened since there wouldn't have been a perceived threat.

    I never let my (leashed) dogs approach another leashed dog without earnestly checking with the other owner, and even then I'm wary of it since my boy dog is just too gregarious and paws-out excited. At the dog park, however, it's very rare to have anything happen beyond the an occasional "grumble/yelp/cower/victorious" first meeting tussle to determine who's the alpha between two dogs. So a watchful eye is all I need to cast.

    I'm a twice-weekly dog park visitor with my two Whippets. Probably once a week one of we regulars have to ask a person to let his/her dog off his leash, before it results in a fight, or at least some intanglement.

    Other naive people continue to bring their tiny dogs to the "big dog" side, and then pick them up at random times to walk around. This will always cause other dogs [not mine of course ] to jump up on the person holding the dog, and then we get either aggression or extreme fear from the dog being held.
    Last edited by Beefcake; 07-12-2010 at 08:39 PM.

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    This isn't a hard one to me. It's not a question of 'fault'. Fault is not a concept in the animal kingdom. And, here on earth if one dog kills another, it doesn't go to prison so again fault does not need to be determined.

    My big thing is that people have to understand the consequences of their actions and take responsibility. You let your dog run around without a leash unsupervised you take responsibility for what it does and what happens to it. Full stop. That includes hurting other living beings, being hit by a car or killed by another animal. You're basically saying your'e ok with any of this if you let your dog run free unsupervised.

    So again, I have difficulty with the fault concept but it's more an issue of accepting accountability. Based on what you describe the leash breaking was an accident...so again, not a 'fault' thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beefcake View Post
    This. It's innate. In a just world, the poodle owner in this fracas would not be successful in filing a complaint here. It's a dog's nature to feel threatened when he is leashed or crated and another dog -- esp. an unleashed one without his owner -- encroaches. Dogs know the difference, and sense the disadvantage. I never let my dogs approach another leashed dog without earnestly checking with the other owner, and even then I'm wary of it since my boy dog is just too gregarious and paws-out excited.

    .
    Exactly. And to my knowledge, dog on dog aggression would most likely not result in any type of fine at all. It might go to a civil court but only if one dog was deemed a valuable property. Pets don't fit the criteria.

    The only fine that would be imposed would be if the dog bit a human and that was not the case. The poodle's owners would risk the fine if there was a leash law, not the boxer's.

    Frankly, neither party deserves to have a dog since they cannot or did not have control of their dog. That being said, nothing will happen in the courts. Leash laws are hardly ever enforced unless a child is the victim.
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    Oy, yeh, leash laws. Here in Long Beach, nary a ticket is written I think. My neighbor across the street turns his two obnoxious Labs loose a few times a week to roam down the street and sh*t in neighbors' lawns. (They remain across the street, thus my indignation over the the lack of leashes and abundance of poop hasn't reached the "tattletale" level.) Meanwhile, my dogs watch it all from the front window ... quite entranced by those free-roamer dogs, while shooting occasional plaintive "it's not fair!" glances in my direction.

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