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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 33934
Experience:  Began practicing law in 1992
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Hello, I am not a professional Pet Sitter, but I do watch pets

Customer Question

Hello, I am not a professional Pet Sitter, but I do watch pets in my home for family members when they can't find someone else. I don't sign any papers or agreements, it like babysitting but its a pet.
Anyways, there was an accident involving a dog that I was watching. Another family member went to pick up the dog when the dog slipped out of their arms and fell to the ground. The dog didn't react as if he was hurt and just went on playing. The dog is a puppy, so we all know how much energy puppies have. The next day the puppy was limping and when the owner came for her dog I told her that he was limping and to take him to a vet. I couldn't take the dog to the vet because I didnt have permission to.
Anyways, the owner took him the day after and I was told he had a sprain and was giving him aspirin for the pain. A week goes by and I get a call from her mother inlaw and tells me that the dog had to go in and have his bone put in place by hand. I did not hear about any of this until this phone call and was told to have a meeting with the cousin that owned the dog, in which I did. I talked with her and saw the first vet bill and asked her about the first x-ray. She said I couldn't get it but yet the vet first diagnosed him with a sprain. She did have another vet bill, an estimated bill for surgery, and an x-ray picture of the dog's joint out of place, which was a week later from the first vet bill. I asked her about the surgery, she said it is all from the sprain. I owned dogs my self and I know that a sprain is not a bone out of place, something else can add to it. The x-ray of the sprain will show if the bone was out of place or not! I said the dog was in your care for this entire week, how do I know if the dog didn't reinjure it or something else happen to it and your not telling me. She told me that it was an excuse for me and I was responsible for all veterinary bills regardless. She won't come to an agreement, I said I would pay for the first vet bill, the dog was diagnose with a sprain, pay her back the money for petsitting and medicine the dog received on that first vet visit but she no she will not agree to it!
Now I need to know what I am liable to pay. For the cost of the bills, or how much the dog is actually worth? (It is a purebred English Bulldog)I know pets are considered property and one cannot compensate for the pain and suffering..just like a car you can't pay for car's suffering but pay back what the car actually cost. I don't want to take this to court, neither does she. I will not be bullied into paying something that I should not have to! I need to know in writing what I am really liable. I live in Wisconsin so I need to know what Wisconsin Law says about this and right now I am having a difficulty time finding a pet lawyer in my area.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 5 years ago.
In all states in the U.S. IF your negligence caused the injury you would be liable for the cost of the vet services. The owner gets to choose the remedy and ask for the value of the dog or the "cost of repair".

There are two issues here that I see. The first is whether or not you were negligent in the first place. I'm not sure a court would hold you responsible for someone else picking the dog up and the dos slipping out of their arms. A judge/jury could find no one was negligent, that the other person was negligent, or that you and the other person were negligent to a certain degree.

The second issue is whether what happened caused the entirety of the vet bills. I think asking for proof that the injury was caused by you is certainly reasonable.

However, to get back to the original question, yes if you are found negligent you could beheld responsible for the entire vet bill even though it is more than the dog is worth.

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