How much am I responsible for?

As a favor for a friend I agreed to watch her dog for a week. For the first 4 days and during the previous intro there were no issues between her dog and mine. For some unknown reason, my 8yr old, half blind, 35lbs Boston Terrier and her 2yr old, 10lb MiniPin decided to very briefly scrap and the result was a torn ear for the MiniPin. I took her to the vet (after hours emergency) to get stitches and took her for a bandage change the next day, total out of my pocket so far, $350.

The MiniPin’s owner comes back in town on Tuesday night but wants to pick up the dog on Wednesday night. The MiniPin is due for another dressing change Wed night but it can wait until Thursday. We suggested that she take the MiniPin to her own vet for the dressing change so she could see what was done and her vet could check it out. But instead, the MiniPin’s owner wants us to take the dog for the dressing change before we give her back, resulting in another $40 out of my pocket.

The reality is I couldn’t afford the original $350 I have already spent and really I don’t want to add on another $40. In addition, the stitches will need to come out about 10 days after she gets her dog back and I’m starting to worry the MiniPin’s owner will want me to pay for that too. I know it’s completely irrelevant but the MiniPin’s owner is far far better off financially than we are and it’s making this whole thing sting even worse.

So my question is, am I responsible for all the bills since it was my dog that did the damage? Should we split the cost since it was an accident and I was doing her a favor? Or should I ask her to pay me back for what I’ve already spent since it’s her dog.

I appreciate any input.

There are two ways you can look at it.

First, your friend was aware that you had a dog and, dogs being dogs, it wasn’t inconceivable when she left her dog with you that something like this could happen. You paid the bulk of the cost because it happened under your watch, and since she would have had to pay to kennel her dog anyways, she should absorb the rest of the cost.

The second view is that it happened under your watch, so you should be fully responsible for the cost.

I’m more inclined to go with the second view. Chalk it up to bad luck and don’t dogsit again. If I were your friend, I would have just paid for the last dressing changes because you did me a favor by keeping my dog for a week, so I do think she’s being a bit of a jerk.

This falls in the “No good deed goes unpunished” category.

Do you have homeowner’s insurance? It’s surprising, the things that are covered under a homeowner’s policy.

I’d have to say that you’re responsible for all of it as well. Like Kathmandu said, your dog caused it at your house under your watch. This is, of course, assume the other dog doesn’t have any history of aggression towards other dogs and this isn’t something the owner should have assumed would happen.
If you’re not to squeemish (and the other person is okay with it), you can probably take the stitches out yourself.

Hmmm, as a dog owner who has people dog sit for him, I would offer to pay the whole thing if one of my dog sitter’s dogs injured mine. I guess it depends on which dog started the rumble. Even if your dog jumped on mine unprovoked, the most I would expect you to pay is half. You were doing me a favor after all.


The legal term for this situation is, I believe, a gratuitous bailment, where you did the dog sitting as a favor and without charging a fee. The standard of care you are legally obliged to give is slight - much lower than for a bailment for hire. So if the owner sues you for anything, she is not likely to recover much.

Morally? I think you have spent a good deal more than you should have. You will not be able to recover any of the $350, nor the $40 if you pony up for having the dressing changed.

I would return the dog and tell your friend that you cannot afford to spend any more on a dog which is not your own.

I rather suspect you will have one less friend at the end of this dog-sitting than you did at the start.


I think if someone offers to keep a dog for you, its pretty miserable for them to have to pay for any accidents unless outright negligence is involved.

If the friendship was important you’d expect at least an offer to help with some of the costs. Sounds like they’ve decided a bill is more important than a friendship, now you have to decide what that decision means to you.


I agree. This wasn’t negligence and I don’t think you should be responsible for any of it. The dog owner got free boarding and is money ahead; there should be no issue of the owner paying.

Thanks for all the responses…

When I have gone out of town and left my dog with a friend, I have always left my CC# on file at my vet’s in case anything happens while I’m gone. I had actually expected to have to eat the $350 I’ve spend so far but when I found out today that she wanted me to get the dressing changed again, even though she will be in town by then and perfectly capable of taking her herself, I guess I got pissed.

She hasn’t actually said anything about the money but we had intended to give her a copy of the bill when we return the dog. More so she would know what was done than anything else although I did secretly hope she would offer to pay for half.

Live and learn I guess. If we ever dog sit again (and that’s a big IF since my GF has already put her foot down) I’ll make sure arrangements are made with the dog’s regular vet to handle any emergencies and everyone is on-board about how any costs that may come up will be handled.

Several years ago I left my dog with my mother, who broke my dog’s leg because she (my mom) was too stupid to know how to use the leash properly. It never occurred to me to try to charge my mother, although I was resentful (not openly to her) that she’d caused a $500, holiday emergency vet bill. She was doing me a favor; it was me that took the risk and had to pay for the consequences. It still seems correct to me.

As for the stitches… I don’t know if it was coincidence or an angry dog, but on the day we were supposed to remove her cast, my wife and I went out to dinner, and come home to find the cast removed. Stitches are embedded, though, so don’t count on my experience.

Are you sure the dog just didn’t accidentally trip over it? What does that even mean, too stupid to know how to use a leash properly?

At first I thought that it was kind of crappy of them to want you to pay, but after thinking about it for awhile, I’m not so sure.

What if the other dog had torn your dog’s ear while you were dogsitting? You’d expect them to pay.

What if your dog had torn the other dog’s ear while both owners were present? Who would pay then? Probably you.

I think that, because you were doing them a favor by watching the dog free of charge, (which costs $30 per day at the petsitting service we catsit for) you guys should split the cost of the vet.

I will probably change my mind again tomorrow.

I think I’d probably eat the cost of the initial injury to the dog I was dogsitting - I’d be mortiified if my dog injured a friend’s dog while I was watching it. The dressing change after she’s home already - that’s on her, though. I can see how she’d want it taken care of by you, since your dog did the damage, but she’s already had a week’s free room and board for her dog - now she’s milking it.

This is yet another example of why you don’t do business with friends and family (or loan them money, or babysit their pets).

I don’t agree with this. Assuming an accident that’s not due to negligence: If a dog gets hurt its owner should pay. It doesn’t matter if the dog got bit by a friend’s dog, fell down a friend’s stairs, or got stung by a bee in a friend’s yard – the dog is the owner’s responsibility. Asking a friend to watch the dog doesn’t relinquish the owner’s responsibility (although paying a friend would). If you ask a dog-owning friend to watch your dog, then it is a reasonable assumption to make that the dogs might not get along. Even dogs that live together and are best friends for years can have an incident.

If I asked a friend to let me keep my car in their driveway while I was on vacation, I wouldn’t expect them to pay for repairs if it got vandalized or got hail damage. If the friend was negligent and backed into the car, I’d expect them to pay. But if the local pizza guy backed into it, I wouldn’t hold the friend responsible.

As a dog owner, you are legally responsible for damage done by your dog. I once dogsat for a friend. The dog bit my daughter on the hand, and they offered to pay for any medical bills (which we privately agreed with). As it turned out, the doctor said just to clean it well, keep an eye on it and not to bother with stitches, so there were no expenses. But if the dog’s owner is responsible for that, I would extend their responsibility to hypothetical damage done to our dog, as well.

I know it is a real gray area when two dogs get into it, though, because you can’t always know what the circumstances were. And you’re saying that getting bitten is something that falls within normal dog behavior, so it’s kind of a no-fault thing? I guess I can see that, but I still think the biter’s owner should generally cover it.

Except that now I think the bitten dog’s owners should pay their own damn bill because they didn’t pay for the boarding. If they had paid, they’d have something to complain about.

A blind man walks into a store and immediately grabs his dog by the lease and starts swinging him over his head. Horrified, the shop keeper came up to the man and asked if there was anything he could do. The blind man said “no thanks, I’m just looking around.”

It was a retractable leash, and (I love my mom) lots of people don’t know how to use them properly. The dog got tangled in it while at an all out trot because the line wasn’t being kept taught.

Well if I was the OP I would guess it was my responsibility.

But If I were the dog owner I would not dream of thinking that the OP was responsible.

One more reason, I no longer own a pet.

Just out of curiosity, what prompted the fight? Which dog started it?