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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70414
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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My dog attacked a cat that came into our garden. The garden

Customer Question

My dog attacked a cat that came into our garden. The garden is secure. The owner of the cat expects us to pay the vets bill. Are we liable for a) the cat's vet bills b) could we be sued
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Hi.

Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

Have you seen an invoice for the vet's bills?

What is the sum?

Are you insured?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
No. Haven't seen the vets bill. Told it's over £300. Our dog has had to have emergency treatment too.

Yes we have per insurance.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
No. Haven't seen an invoice.

Told by cat's owner it's over £300.

We are insured. Our dog has had to have emergency treatment
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Sorry, I don't mean pet insurance. I meant third party insurance?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
How do you mean?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
How do you mean?
The pet insurance covers third party liability
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Pet insurance normally covers veterinary expenses? You might have third party attached.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Yes we do. To quote the insurance paper 'if your dog causes damage or injury in the uk and you are legally responsible.

That's what we need to know please. Are we legally responsible?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks.

That really makes no sense at all. Either you are insured or you are not. If you do have third party insurance then they are liable on your behalf and its a simple matter of handing over this neighbour to your insurers who will not pay if there is no claim.

Obviously you are entitled to sight of the vet's bill and confirmation that they have actually paid it.

However, for the time being proceeding on the basis that what he says is true. you can stil lbe liable under the Animals Act basically if there is either negligence or a previous incident sufficient to create the knowledge in your mind that your dog may behave in this way. On the facts that you present I cannot see a negligence issue. Even if there has been a previous incident though I do not see what more you could do than leave your dog in a secure garden.

Your liability under the Animals Act is not absolute or even strict. It only arises if you neglect in some way. That can be something like losing control of your dog's lead etc. Either way they have to show that your negligent actions contributed which is going to be a real problem for them.

Even if they could get over that hurdle you could argue they were contributorily negligent. I have to say I'm not sure that would survive a challenge. Cats are presumed to be semi wild animals and their owners are not commonly liable for their roaming but it is a bit rich of them to expect their cat to be able to come into your dog's garden without permission and claim the vet's bills from you.

If you have third party insurance though then just let your insurers deal with this.

He may complain to the police. The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 doesn't apply because this is not an injury or reasonable apprehension to a person but they could drop down upon the Dogs' Act 1871. That is just a civil complaint and it just carries either destruction or a control order. Its to be hoped they do not take that action. its difficult to see what measures could be added to a control order that would have made any difference here. Also, there is case law that says that its in the nature of dogs to chase small furries. That case doesn't involve a cat but the principle is the same.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo