Ask Siesky Law – April 2022

Q: I was walking my dog on a leash in my neighborhood recently when a neighbor’s dog suddenly appeared off-leash (with the owner nowhere in sight) and attacked my dog. Sadly, my dog suffered multiple injuries and had to be euthanized. What options do I have in terms of pursuing legal action against my negligent neighbor?

Dogs are great companions and friends.  However, a dog owner is responsible for caring for the dog.  If a dog owner fails to monitor and control the dog, a dog attack can (and likely will) occur.  In evaluating the merits of a legal case stemming from a dog attack, several factors must be considered, including the following:

  • Did the dog bite occur on the dog owner’s property?;
  • Was the dog on a leash?;
  • Has the dog bitten or acted aggressively before?;
  • Is the dog breed known for aggression?;
  • Is a person (landlord, neighbor, etc.) other than the dog owner potentially responsible for the attack?;
  • Is there insurance coverage for the dog attack?;
  • Was a person attacked, and if so, what scarring or other injuries resulted?;
  • If a person was attacked, was the person a mail carrier?; and
  • Was another dog attacked.

There are certainly more factors to consider but these factors are basic questions to consider.

In the scenario posed here, Indiana law recognizes a legal claim for injury to a dog but considers a dog to be “property”.  So, the recoverable damages would be limited to the value of the dog (think how much was paid for the dog not what the dog is worth to the owner) and vet bills.


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