What Happens When Another Dog Attacks Your Dog?

If your dog is harmed, you may be able to recover compensation.

Most news reports about dog attacks focus on dogs that harm humans. Yet dogs can, and often do, attack other dogs.

A dog that has been socialized to behave well around humans may still become aggressive around other dogs. Illinois law requires dog owners to keep their dogs in check – whether the dog’s target is a human or another dog. If your dog is harmed, you may be able to recover compensation.

Dog on Dog Attacks in the News

Cases in which one dog attacks another are not unheard of. In 2020, for example, a corgi named Yo-Yo was killed during a daily walk in Arlington Heights when a pit bull attacked. The owner’s attempts to leash the pit bull failed, resulting in fatal injuries to the corgi. The owner of the pit bull received a $750 fine.

Similarly, in 2020, a pit bull attacked a beagle in the parking lot of a Michigan PetSmart. When the pit bull’s owner tried to intervene, the pit bull bit its owner’s hand. The beagle was rushed into the PetSmart for first aid, but the injuries proved fatal. The pit bull’s owner was cited for violating the township’s vicious dog ordinance, and investigators said the pit bull had scars from what looked like previous fights with another dog or a wild animal.

Many reports of cases in which a dog attacks another dog go unreported. Dog owners may attempt to settle the situation between themselves, or the owner of an injured dog may be unable to find the owner of the attacking dog. Working with an experienced lawyer can help owners of injured dogs determine who is responsible.

Illinois Requirements for Dog Owners

Illinois has a strict liability statute governing dog attacks. Under this law, a dog’s owner is liable for the damages when:

  • The dog attacks or attempts to attack another person or animal,
  • The victim was attacked in a place they had a legal right to be, and
  • The victim didn’t provoke the attacking dog or do anything else to cause the attack.

This rule applies to both humans and dogs who are attacked by other dogs.

In some cases, the facts are straightforward. In others, the attacking dog’s owner may argue that the injured dog’s owner is partly to blame for the attack. For example:

  • The injured dog’s owner had their dog off-leash in an area where leashes were required.
  • The attacking dog behaved in self-defense when the injured dog attacked first.
  • The injured dog’s owner let their dog onto private property.
  • The injured dog’s owner provoked the attacking dog into lashing out.

Certain factors can help prove you are a responsible dog owner who does not share the fault for your dog’s fate. For instance, courts may consider evidence that:

  • Your dog completed obedience classes or regular at-home training on how to behave around other dogs and in public.
  • You kept your dog on a leash or in a fenced-in yard.
  • You were supervising your dog closely when the attack occurred.

When both dog owners share some of the fault, Illinois’s comparative fault rules may reduce the total compensation either dog owner can obtain from the other. An experienced attorney can help you determine how fault might be determined and build a case on your behalf.

Compensation When Another Dog Attacks Your Dog

When a dog owner is found liable for a dog attack, that owner may be responsible for paying compensation to the owner of a dog injured in the attack. When another dog attacks your dog, you may be able to recover damages for losses like:

  • Medical bills to treat your pet’s injuries,
  • Expenses for euthanasia if your dog must be put to sleep to prevent further suffering,
  • The cost of replacing your dog if the attack proves fatal,
  • The cost of any necessary training, if your dog was a service or guide dog that can no longer do its job due to injury or death.

Illinois’ dog bite statute allows dog owners to file claims even when the owner of an attacking dog has already faced a ticket or fine issued by a court.

Focusing on the financial aspects of a dog attack can feel reductive or dismissive of the cherished place your pet holds in your heart. Yet pursuing compensation can do more than repay you for your financial losses. It can also help you hold another dog owner responsible when their negligent behavior results in harm.

If your dog has been attacked, talk to an experienced attorney. The Briskman, Briskman & Greenberg team can help you seek compensation after an attack.

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