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Hypothetically speaking... who would be liable...

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  • Hypothetically speaking... who would be liable...

    if my neighbor's chihuahua dug under our 6ft privacy fence from the outside, let itself into our backyard and one of our dogs (or all of our dogs) attacked it?

    All of the fence is sunk into the ground except the gate, and we walk the inside perimeter often, since we do have a digger. We have a block in front of the gate on the inside where the dogs would be particularly predisposed to wanting to dig.

    The other day, my roommate opened the door to let the dogs in and there was the neighbor's chihuahua, parked inside our gate! Luckily our dogs hadn't noticed him yet and he scrammed when she walked outside. I went around the side and found where he had been digging under the gate.

    So, we barricaded from the outside as well but my roommate's mini aussie has a high prey drive (turned into a/c for beating up neighbors cats) but it made us wonder where the liability lies if the neighbors dog let itself into our backyard and got hurt!
    Big Idea Eventing

  • #2
    At this point, because nothing has happened, I would write a dated letter (with a copy for yourself) letting the neighbor know you caught their chi inside your fence line and that one of your dogs has the high prey drive so you wouldn't want anything to happen to their Precious.

    In a perfect world, the neighbor would be liable, but often-times we see the owner of the "evil" dog that did the attacking, getting the blame.
    Friend of bar.ka!
    Originally posted by MHM
    GM quote of the day, regarding the correct way to do things:
    "There's correct, and then there's correct. If you're almost correct, that means you're wrong."


    • #3
      Neighbor would be liable.


      • #4
        Personally, I wouldnt mention anything about a "high prey drive" To too many non-doggy judges or juries that can sound like you are admitting that your dog is "dangerous".

        If I wanted to do a letter, I would ask that they dog-proof their side of the fence and maybe mention that my dogs would "play too rough" if their dog got into the yard.


        • #5
          I would think the neighbor would be at fault, but the letter is a good idea.

          Not-so-hypothetical similar situation, my SIL and brother had a houseguest with hunting Brittanys, about 6 of them, I think. These were not housepet dogs; they were a pack of "huntin'" dogs, and the houseguest went huntin' regularly, of course on land where he had permission to go huntin'. But for some weeks, they were living in my brother and SIL's back yard fence, along with the poodle and Beagles when they were let outside. Neighbor had chickens. SIL patrolled the fence for any sign of digging, hotwired the fence even. It was solid. Did her best. Neighbor also patrolled the fence on his side. One day, several of the neighbor's chickens somehow flapped over (were seen doing so) into the fenced back yard. By the time the people got out there, it was over.

          SIL and neighbor expressed mutual regrets over the deaths and had a mutual BBQ. No damages paid; neighbor admitted his chickens crossed into her secured fence.


          • #6
            OP, how can you be certain that one of YOUR dogs didn't already start digging the hole, thereby giving the Chi access? You said yourself that one of your dogs is a digger.

            I think the neighbor would still be SOL since his/her Chi was obviously loose and able to come over and get into your fence, but you may want to make sure its not one of your dogs digging a hole.
            "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


            • #7
              maybe as a pre-emptive hope you could introduce your dogs to the chi? so they know it's a dog and not a rat, and it might survive a future visit?


              • #8
                I'm curious why the Chi was loose outside, assuming that your gate isn't part of a shared fenceline with a fenced in yard belonging to the neighbor. Was the dog loose to go wandering around the neighborhood as it pleased?
                It's not about the color of the ribbon but the quality of the ride. Having said that, I'd like the blue one please!


                • #9
                  Is there an enforced leash law? That might be one more factor for your side, because the chi was roaming. And if you're sure from the dirt marks that the chi dug under, then I don't see where you have a legal problem, and as long as you send the letter to the owner telling them about the dog roaming, then you have done everything you can. It would be awful for the chi to be injured or worse, but as long as you continue to do checks for more digging, and have already blocked access on both sides of the gate, then you are off the hook. However, if the chi owner doesn't watch the chi closer, and something happens, then it's the owner's fault not yours or the dogs.
                  You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks all.

                    Yes, the chi was wandering loose as it pleased. Many of our neighbors have dogs and we're the only ones with a fence, since we have a beagle/JRTx, a fence jumper, a husky (the digger) and a mini aussie with a high prey drive. We keep our contained and they frequently run the fence line with loose neighbor dogs etc on the other side.

                    I'm fairly confident our dogs aren't doing any digging since we have that side blocked and the dig marks on the other side (outside) extend out well beyond where our dogs would be able to reach, and in a location not accessible because of the "block". Not to say they haven't done some scratching on the edges, but the majority of the hole was definitely not something they could have dug, logistically. The husky is more apt to digging holes in the middle of the yard to lay in, but we keep an eye on the perimeter just in case she gets a wild hair.

                    I do think we have a leash law, but I'm not for sure on that.

                    We're friendly with this neighbor, so we'll definitely mention it to him next time we see him, although I'm sure it won't keep him from letting the chi roam.

                    Doesn't really matter, I suppose, as we now have a full length board on the inside of the gate so the dogs won't be able to get NEAR the gap underneath, and we put some garden fencing on the outside, as well as another block, to dissuade further chi visits.
                    Big Idea Eventing