Question: Am I liable for the dog's medical bills?
Question Detail: I was in an off-leash area and a screaming Chihuahua ran by, chased by several other dogs. My dog's prey drive kicked in and he jumped in the fray and picked up the Chihuahua with his mouth and swung him around a few times. Do I need to pay for the medical bills for the Chihuahua? Should I also be concerned about "emotional distress" or other claims?

Answer: You know it's a dog-eat-dog world and the opportunity to answer a litigation question about something Paris Hilton owns is beyond my ability to resist.

To come up with the best possible answer I called upon Molly for her expert opinion and she and I conferred over a dog treat and a good nap. [Molly is in the pink bed. Oreo (bless her soul), in the blue...] Now I have the definitive answer!

While I think the Chihuahua owners will have a ruff-ruff time demanding payment you should know that your homeowner's insurance policy probably has coverage and should keep you out of the doghouse. I hike on a trail that abuts an area fenced in for dogs, so I get to watch dog behavior in this no-leash pet play area. Most dogs behave but some are aggressive and aggressive dogs need to be restrained by the owenrs. If their owners don't restrain them they too should be put in the doghouse. After all if someone has a bone to pick with your dog it's probably misdirected since your dog just joined in the fun of putting the little yapper in its place. So enough of this dog-eat-dog-hot-diggety-dog world and certainly enough of this cat-n-mouse game, go talk to your insurance agent and tell the Chihuahua owners to look elsewhere for a treat. 

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Steve Lombardi
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Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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