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29 Feb 2004

Legal question - maltese attacked and killed by another dog

My maltese poodle was in our property behind closed gates on friday. A dog who had been roaming the streets all afternoon barking at her and the other dogs managed to get hold of her head and her pulled through a small decorative hole in our gate and killed her. I want to know what legal recourse I have against the owners of the dog. I believe that their child had left their gate open and even though they were home they didn't come and bring their dog back onto their property. The death was witnessed by two policeman who were on patrol in the area.

We will be giving them the bill for her cremation when we recieve it from the vet. I presume we can make them pay for it?
I also want to know if I can make them take their dog to see a behaviourist or to training or give it pills or something to make it less aggressive and vicious and if we have any legal ground to make them put extra gates up to stop this violent dog from being on the street.

I am scared that the dog will do it again, maybe next time to a child. I don't want them to have to put their dog down as it is bad enough for us to lose our beloved pet (shes like my child) I don't want two dogs to be dead out of this. I just feel something needs to be done. Does anyone know the law regarding this or where I can find out about it?

Answer 452 views

01 Jan 0001

Hi Kirsten
Sorry to hear about your "best friend" - I hear that you are very sad. Anger is also part of the grieving process, so know that this is ok. However revenge is not going to help in the long run, as you say. You are right to be concerned about other dogs or children being hurt. I am no legal person, so perhaps you need to consult an attorney, but I do know that owners of dogs are responsible for their behaviour, especially if they are aware of the fact that they may be vicious. I believe that this dog's owners are the ones responsible and if they are in any way sorry they will offer to pay expenses, at least. You need to let them know how sad you are and try not to fight with them about it. If they allow their dog to roam the streets, even now, then I suggest you write to all their neighbours warning them of the dangers, or even write to your local paper with your story. It may cost you an arm and a leg to take them to court and it won't bring back your dog or make your neighbourhood any friendlier, as people will feel they have to take sides. My suggestion is to make peace with them and suggest in the kindest way that they provide some secure way to keep their dog in, or at least see a behaviourist (who will suggest the same thing anyway, among other things, depending on the history). This dog may have a history of aggression or it may have just been a freak accident. If you have other dogs I suggest you make your gate more secure with shade cloth or wire netting so the same thing doesn't happen again.
Karen Gray-Kilfoil
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