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longgone's avatar

What would you do if someone else's pet got hurt in your care?

Asked by longgone (14690points) February 10th, 2019

Last week, I had a dog stay with me. This was an adult dog, pretty calm in general, no behavior issues. He arrived at 7 am and stayed until 3 on four consecutive days.

After he was picked up on his last day, the owners called me. Their dog needed expensive veterinary care because he had swallowed an object, presumably plastic, and it got stuck in his intestines.

Some context: I’ve taken care of dozens of dogs, and they were all returned safe and sound. The dog in question was right with me all day, except for three hours. Those three hours I was out, but the dog was in a room that’s the maximum amount of dog-proof. It has some closed shelves and a piano in it, and then a dog bed, a water bowl, and some (owner-approved) chew toys.

I don’t think I did anything wrong. The owners signed a contract saying that their dog is allowed to spend a few hours by himself – and that, in the event of injury, they’re liable.

And yet, they want me to pay their 300$ vet bill.

What would you do?

PS: The dog, fortunately, is recovering. He’s a really sweet guy and I’m so relieved.

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9 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

No way. There is no way on earth to know where he was when he swallowed the plastic, for one thing. For another, it was an accident. Dogs and kids get hurt and it is the responsibility of the owners / parents to get them treated.

Gross negligence on someone elses part is a whole different story. IMO this comes no where near gross negligence even if he did swallow it at your house.

ragingloli's avatar

Remind them of the contract.

canidmajor's avatar

The dog was not exclusively in your care, he went home every night. The contract said that you were not liable in case of injury. In a case like this, they are waaaaay out of range trying to stick you for this.

I would re moment no longer caring for this animal, his people are inappropriate clients.

Which doesn’t address your original Q. If it was a given that someone else’s pet got injured while in my care, I would pay the vet bills.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

What’s in the contract is what is in the contract. Although they can have the case tested in the court if they have time and money for a lawyer but I highly doubt it.

Ask for the ‘plastic’ sample and identify it to see whether or not such a thing exist in your surroundings prior to the incident. If the material was from your place then your place is not exactly dog-proof as you stated in your contract, otherwise it’s the owner’s own negligence.

raum's avatar

How I respond would depend on when the owners asked me. Did they ask me before or after their vet removed the plastic object? Are they going after me for the vet bill because they believe the plastic item came from my apartment? Or is their claim completely unfounded, as the evidence hasn’t even been removed yet?

Also it would depend on how confident I was that the room was dog-proof. Could the dog access the closed shelves? What was inside the shelves? Any visible damage to piano or dog bed? I would not assume liability for the toys that were approved by the owner.

Glad to hear the dog is doing better. Sorry to hear you have to deal with this though. :/

flutherother's avatar

I’d be curious as to what exactly it was that the dog swallowed to help prevent this happening again. I would also say that leaving the dog alone for three hours was pushing it a bit when it was agreed it could spend a few hours alone. A dog left on its own in an unfamiliar place for a long time is apt to get a bit neurotic and start chewing the furniture, barking incessantly or swallowing any odd thing that happens to be lying around.

The bottom line, however, is that the owners accepted liability in the event of injury so I would not pay.

longgone's avatar

Thanks, everyone.

My vet confirmed that looking at the time frame, there’s a good chance this accident did not occur when the dog was in my care.

I agree that it’s a bad idea to stay in a business relationship with this family. They’ve moved on to outright lies now, saying I told them I’d cover vet costs. I’m so glad I have written proof of our communication, as well as a signed contract.

The object is still inside the dog. I’ve asked how he’s doing, but they’re not telling me.

Yes, I’m certain that the room was safe. The closed shelves contain boxes that this dog would have had to first remove to get at the things inside, and then neatly put back in time for me coming home. There’s no damage to the piano. The dog bed went home with the owners, but I would have noticed any signs of destruction when I was packing it up.

The owners had specified 3–4 hours, and this dog has been staying with me at different times for a few months now. I helped him learn that being home alone at my place is safe by leaving him for just a few minutes at first. So while I agree that dogs left in an unfamiliar place can become very anxious, I really think I did everything I could to prevent that.

Thanks for all the support, I appreciate that. I usually have very good relationships with my clients, and this is especially upsetting because the dog, last I heard, is still in pain.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Hang in there @longgone. This was not your fault….but it’s still stressful. I’m sorry you’re having to go through it.

raum's avatar

I’m glad the vet was able to validate that it didn’t happen while the dog was in your care. It’s so upsetting to hear your clients response. Again, sorry you had to deal with this. Really sucks when people suck.

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