What Happens If My Dog Bites Another Dog?

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Three dogs are fighting in a sunny park.

It depends on where the bite occurred.

If your dog bit another canine on your property, you are probably not strictly liable. If you were walking the dog on a leash and it got into an altercation with another dog, strict liability doesn’t apply.

If your dog was running off-leash in an area with a leash law (like Raleigh), you might be liable for the dog’s vet bills.

When a dog kills or severely injures another domestic animal (like a dog or cat) outside the owner’s property, it may be deemed a “potentially dangerous dog.” The state of North Carolina does not require the euthanization of dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs, but the owner is expected to take responsibility and ensure the dog is not a threat to others.

This means that if your dog is “potentially dangerous” and goes on to bite a person, you could be strictly liable for their damages.

The local Animal Control office will usually appoint someone to determine if a dog is dangerous or potentially dangerous after a bite report. In some situations, you may be able to argue that the circumstances were unique, the dog felt threatened by the other animal, or it was acting in its capacity as a hunting dog when the bite occurred.

If the person or board designated by Animal Control ultimately designates your dog as “potentially dangerous,” you will be notified in writing. You can appeal this decision; a separate board will be assigned to hear your appeal.

What to Do When Your Dog Bites Another Dog

Separate the dogs as quickly as possible. If your dog is on a leash, this should be much easier.

Sometimes the other dog is also on a leash, and their owner or caregiver pulls them away. Remember that you should not try to get between two fighting dogs.

Instead, pull backward on your dog – hopefully, the other dog owner will do the same. If this is unsuccessful, some experts suggest pouring water on the dogs or throwing a blanket over them to distract them from the conflict.

But in some situations, the other dog is unleashed, making separating the animals more difficult. The other canine may also be acting aggressively.

If this is the case, you might need to haul your dog back to your car, home, or anywhere you can close a door behind you to end the conflict.

If the dog is with a person, try to talk to them after you’ve successfully separated the animals. You may need to put your dog in your car or tie it to a fence to prevent a second altercation.

Ask if the other dog is all right or needs medical attention. You should check your dog for injuries as well since most dogs will bite back if attacked.

Try to get the other person’s contact information and give them yours, and let them know you’re happy to provide proof of vaccination for your dog. It’s also a good idea to inquire if the other pet is vaccinated for rabies.

Avoid arguing about responsibility; never say that you think the bite was your fault. Sometimes dogs can feel threatened for unexpected reasons and bite another animal before the owner can respond – it may not be anyone’s fault.

If the other owner is becoming belligerent, yelling, or trying to start a fight with you, calmly tell them that you will report the bite to Animal Control and try to wait in another area, like your car.

Another possibility is that the other owner will grab their dog and run away. Don’t chase after them.

Note the dog’s and the owner’s description, and try to get a license plate number if they leave in a car. Write this information down and give it to Animal Control when reporting the bite.

Get your dog medical attention, even if it doesn’t appear to be seriously injured.

Do I Have to Quarantine My Dog After It Bites Another Dog?

North Carolina requires a 10-day quarantine after a dog bites a human. It doesn’t require one if a dog bites another animal.

However, just because quarantine isn’t legally required doesn’t mean you should ignore unusual behavior in your dog. If this bite was unprovoked and out of character for the animal, take it to the vet for an evaluation.

Often health problems can cause a dog to act aggressively.

Rabies is rare in animals who are up to date on vaccinations, but you should still be on the lookout for any of the signs in dogs – especially if you can’t confirm the other dog’s vaccination status.

If your dog is not vaccinated for rabies, vaccinate immediately unless your vet recommends a quarantine first.

If this is the case, you may be able to quarantine the dog at home if you can safely keep it away from other animals and people. If not, your vet may be able to board and quarantine the dog.

How to Prevent Biting and Aggressive Behavior in Dogs

Some dogs may be more aggressive than others, but in many cases, proper training can help temper this behavior. Enrolling your dog in an obedience class is one of the best ways to prevent biting and aggression for several reasons:

  • Your dog will be socialized with other animals. This is most beneficial for puppies, but can also help older dogs that are not good with animals.

Beginner’s classes usually require all dogs to be leashed with an owner, so this is a relatively safe environment for socialization.

  • You will learn to recognize when your dog is feeling scared or territorial, and you’ll gain the tools to respond properly. Once you are better in tune with your dog’s emotions, you can take steps to remove them from situations where they might become aggressive.
  • Your dog will get better at listening to you. This is helpful in numerous situations, including when you tell the dog to “leave it alone” when encountering another dog or to come with you when you quickly head in a different direction.

What If Your Dog Was Attacked or Bitten by Another Dog?

In some situations, the other dog’s owner might be liable for your dog’s injuries. Please contact Tatum & Atkinson at 800-LAW-0804 for a free consultation to learn more about your options.