When Dogs Attack
January 20, 2009 5:42 AM   Subscribe

My dog and I were viciously attacked Wednesday at a place of business. The dog is owned by an intern of the business. She has a new puppy and was unrestrained and had no collar (which made it difficult to control her). I was going to let it slide, but they have been less than friendly and take no responsibility for the attack.

The place of business is an outdoor music venue with attached recording studio, dogs without leashes have always been welcome.

My dog was sniffing around and got attacked. For several minutes I tried to separate them and also got bit. The owner ran over and told me to put ym dog in my car, which I did. The other dog circled the car threateningly, and a few minutes when she left, I opened the door to console my very frightened dog. The aggressor then jumped in my car and resumed her attack. I fought her off, got in my car and left.

My sweet dog has not been the same since.

What are my legal options to ensure this doesn't happen again?
posted by toastchee to Pets & Animals (26 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Is there a leash law where you live?
posted by Atom12 at 5:53 AM on January 20, 2009

What do you want them to do?
posted by Pants! at 5:55 AM on January 20, 2009

Call the police and press charges.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:01 AM on January 20, 2009

Response by poster: IAm, that's what I was wondering. What would the charges be ? What happens then?
posted by toastchee at 6:07 AM on January 20, 2009

You say you were going to let it slide, but they've been less than friendly and refuse to take responsibility. You can't really make either of those things happen - you can't make them feel bad about what happened (an alternate option is that they do, but they are fearful of liability or retaliation), or feel any particular way at all.

I am wary of dog-friendly places of business, because it forces dogs to interact in ways that aren't particularly doglike. And when there's a "house dog," that dog is going to be territorial (leashes, I find, actually make the situation worse, because it's a different power dynamic, and most of the group-play kennels I've used take collars off because even happily-playing dogs can get their jaws stuck under another dog's collar and then someone gets hurt and a fight ensues). You chose to take your dog into that environment. They choose to have that kind of environment. You could try to force them to make a different choice, but this is often a battle that backfires.

Play some confidence-building games with your dog, try to get her socializing again in a more controlled environment, and if you don't like the way this place does business, don't give them your money.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:09 AM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Assuming this happened on private property, I'm not sure what your legal recourses are. If they are not willing to pay for medical treatment for you and your pup, you should certainly contact a lawyer and at least threaten legal action. If the dog that bit your dog cannot provide proof of rabies vaccination there may be some quarantine restrictions that will be placed on it*, but I don't think you will have much luck in getting dogs banned from someone else's place of business. When you speak to the police, you might try speaking to their Animal Control officer first, as they will be more knowledgeable about local animal-related laws and regulations.

This page
suggests that your options vary significantly depending on your local laws. Good luck!

*In my jurisdiction there would be anyway.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:27 AM on January 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

Aggressive dogs are a drag and the most dangerous ones are owned by the biggest assh*les.

You don't say if the dog's bite broke the skin of you or your dog. That of course means reporting it to the proper city department, and I would expect that all you could really do is demand that the owner take care of any vet bills for stitches.

You were on their property and you decided not to leash your dog. End of story. I think there are better uses of the police's time than listening to you vent about the attack. Chalk it up to experience.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:33 AM on January 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

I think it would be wise to file a police report, even if you don't intend to press charges. That gives you a record of what happened, should you need it in the future. In addition, when you go to file, the officer would be able to help you determine what charges might be appropriate should you pursue the case.

If it were me, I'd file charges--for my own injuries if nothing else. If this venue allows dogs off-leash, yet has a territorial dog on the premise, they're asking for trouble. If nothing else, your action can prevent others from getting hurt in the same way. If the venue dog is territorial, then either all dogs on premises should be leashed, or outside dogs should be banned altogether.
posted by catwoman429 at 6:34 AM on January 20, 2009

I can't see how they wouldn't be at fault for this. Their dog attacked you and your dog. They then did nothing to control their dog. Most people after seeing this would grab their dog, smack it, then put it in a kennel. However they decided to let their dog run free and terrorize you. Even after you made an attempt to escape to your car with your dog, the dam thing followed you and then attacked you again. I'm sure they are at fault. In fact since their dog attacked you I would have it put to sleep. That'll show them to let their dog run around attacking people. However we do live in a somewhat nice society, I would try to talk it over with them. Sit down with them and explain your side. If they still want to act like douche bags then get a lawyer and go after them.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:36 AM on January 20, 2009

Mod note: a few comments removed - please be constructive
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:46 AM on January 20, 2009

Are you a paying client of this business? And your dog was attacked by that of a lowly intern, who then failed to lift a finger to stop the attack and showed no concern even after the fact? If you can't go to the business owner and at least get this intern reprimanded and his dog banned, then you might want to start a rival venue that at least gives a crap about its customers.
posted by rocketpup at 6:53 AM on January 20, 2009

Where I live, a dog attacking another dog is grounds for animal control to get involved, and if they attack a person the dog is going to get put down, whether it's on private property or not. I suggest you talk with the police or animal control.
posted by Anonymous at 7:28 AM on January 20, 2009

The intern is an employee of the business. As a general rule, the business is responsible for torts committed by that employee while he's on the clock. In many (most? all?) states, owners are responsible (often strict liability) for the actions of their animals.

Follow that chain back -- it's possible, depending on state and local laws, that the business could be held strictly liable for the actions of employees' pets at their place of business.

I'd talk to a lawyer, an animal control officer, and either way I'd never take my dog back there again.
posted by toomuchpete at 7:49 AM on January 20, 2009

Call the police. Legally, your dog is considered your property--you should, at least, be able to sue for vet bills, which would start with contacting the police.

And have you taken your pet to the vet, at least? If she's acting skittish or differently, I'd want a physical to at least make sure that any wounds/bites haven't gotten infected, and, perhaps, get some tranquilizers. This sort of experience can really make dogs act spooked.

I am wary of dog-friendly places of business, because it forces dogs to interact in ways that aren't particularly doglike.

Seconded. Even at dog parks there have been (serious) problems with dog aggression. I'd limit my dog's off leash play time to controlled situations with dogs (and owners) that you know.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:21 AM on January 20, 2009

Check with your local county Animal Services. For instance, IIRC, where I used to live, a dog that has a record of attacking a human once or other animals twice is registered as aggressive. At that point, the dog is required to be on a leash and muzzled or in a fenced enclosure when not indoors. Otherwise, it can be removed from the owner.

It’s a zero tolerance policy against aggressive dogs and has nothing to do whether or not you are on private property, or with either dog being leashed. An attack is an attack.

Maybe your County has something similar.
posted by studentbaker at 8:54 AM on January 20, 2009

Best answer: More facts, please! Were both dogs were off leash? Were you all outdoors? From your description, it sounds like the attacker was a puppy, is that correct? I have a hard time imagining a vicious puppy attack, but maybe I'm misunderstanding. Did you or your dog require medical/veterinary care? I assume not, since you didn't mention it.

Things like this are usually dealt with at a city level, so regulations are really going to vary by location. Generally, your animal control office is probably the best place to start. But think about how far you're going to get ... if no one was hurt and it was primarily dog-on-dog agression, I'm not sure you have any "proof" that her dog was in the wrong. You were both, after all, off leash with your two dogs. I understand that it's upsetting, but these things happen. If I felt really compelled to do something, I'd probably write a strongly-worded letter to the company and copy Animal Control. Then at least people have a record of your complaint if it happens again.
posted by robinpME at 9:25 AM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

This situation really doesn't look like one where the legal system can help you, at least not without having to go through so much trouble that it just wouldn't be worth it. I would suggest small claims court, but yet again I'm not a lawyer so this might not fall under the right jurisdiction.
Of course, a malicious person would just leave chicken bones and little bowls of antifreeze lying around.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:44 AM on January 20, 2009

I feel like a lot of the advice above is bad. Dogs should not be biting humans, or even other dogs. This dog was aggressively attacking another dog and a human, and it doesn't matter whether this was a puppy or not. The OP's dog retreated and was followed and attacked again. This dog was red-lined, and this behavior shows it was clearly trying to kill the OP's dog. Clearly the attacking dog should not be allowed in public unleashed, and the facility was negligent in not controlling it.

A police report should be made, and a call to animal control should be made. Other people will be hurt, and other dogs will be hurt. A record of attacks by this dog has to be made.
posted by Jupiter Jones at 9:50 AM on January 20, 2009 [6 favorites]

Having been bitten by a dog while pulling it off another - I am sorry to hear you had to go through this. It was more traumatic than I expected it to be. In that situation it was my mom's dog, and she had to rehome it for the safety of the other dogs in the house. Dogs don't always come with clear labels as far as their tendencies. This one was sweet as pie one minute, totally harmless, and in the blink of an eye, snapped.

I've no constructive advice beyond being overly cautious with your dogs' wounds, if there are any. Dog bites get infected very easily. I'd probably complain to animal control, but if enough time has passed since the attack, I'm not sure how effective complaints will be.
posted by routergirl at 9:55 AM on January 20, 2009

Best answer: Jupiter Jones is right. That was not dogs playing. Especially with a careless attitude like the owner seems to have, this dog will not get better. It's sad, but you may as well start the documentation process for the aggressive dog now, so that it can be destroyed (or re-homed with someone who can rehabilitate it) before/when tragedies occur. Report it to animal control.
posted by ctmf at 11:02 AM on January 20, 2009

I would have a stern talk with the business owner and tell them that his employee's dog was overly aggressive, bit you, and jumped in your car and attacked your dog.

Then I would request that the owner ban the dog from the workplace because of its behavior.
posted by zippy at 11:09 AM on January 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I feel like a lot of the advice above is bad. Dogs should not be biting humans, or even other dogs. This dog was aggressively attacking another dog and a human, and it doesn't matter whether this was a puppy or not. The OP's dog retreated and was followed and attacked again. This dog was red-lined, and this behavior shows it was clearly trying to kill the OP's dog. Clearly the attacking dog should not be allowed in public unleashed, and the facility was negligent in not controlling it.

As someone whose family was once unfortunately the owner of an aggressive dog, I cannot agree with this enough. We were dismayed by our newly adopted dog's human and dog aggressive behavior, and pursued professional aggression training and the animal continued to snap at people and fight with other dogs and still, eventually, had to be put down. This is a problem that's difficult to manage even if you want to; based on the owner's behavior, I would not be surprised if this happens again. Please pursue it so that you can stop any other animals (including people) from getting hurt.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:39 AM on January 20, 2009

Zippy's recommendation sounds better to me than putting down a puppy for fighting with another dog and for their owners being jerks. I also would like to hear more details. Was your dog leashed, was skin broken, etc? Could this have been fairly normal dog roughhousing?
posted by xammerboy at 1:11 PM on January 20, 2009

I'm sorry, but this is not just about you anymore.

If this dog has attacked, it will do so again. It's obvious that its owner doesn't give a crap and will allow the problem to get worse. Who's to say the dog won't bite someone again even if they don't have a dog with them?

When my mother was bit by a dog like this, she first filed a police report and then spoke to animal control. Hearings were held and the owners were found to be in violation of A LOT of codes. They were held responsible for that as a result. They tried to shirk their responsibilities for medical bills and my mother's boss's dogs (whom she was walking at the time)vet bills. A lawyer and a lot of persistence were needed for this. Worse comes to worse, small claims is the best you can do legally to recover the cost of any of those bills.

I'd also have a talk with the owner of this establishment. The intern needs a reprimand at the very least for allowing their dog to cause such a liability. Take your business elsewhere until the issue is addressed and let them know you're doing it.
posted by arishaun at 1:26 PM on January 20, 2009

Also, this was last Wednesday? You've waited almost too long -- please act now and file.
posted by thinkpiece at 1:35 PM on January 20, 2009

Being that this was a puppy, are you sure it had its rabies shot yet?
posted by tamitang at 6:49 PM on January 20, 2009

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