N.S. shihtzu owner must pay part of vet bill after dog fight because pet unleashed

The owner of a Shihtzu badly injured in a nasty fight with a larger pit bull-Labrador mix has been ordered to pay half the vet bill – because her small dog wasn’t on a leash.

A Nova Scotia small claims court ruling says the two women involved in the dispute should each pay $669.35 of the Shihtzu’s $1,338.69 veterinarian bill.

The ruling, handed down in August and released this week, stated that a Shihtzu named Max was off-leash outside its home last April when he approached the larger dog named Blazer as he walked past on a leash with his owner.

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The complainant was asking that her vet bills be covered entirely by the defendant, but adjudicator Eric Slone found that Max’s owner was partly responsible for not having her Shihtzu on a leash as she unloaded groceries from her car.

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“The complainant must bear some of the responsibility by not having her dog leashed, or otherwise within her control,” Slone wrote, adding that the defendant had originally offered to pay half the bill.

“I apportion her liability at 50 per cent.”

The court document says Blazer “bit Max quite severely” on his belly, causing a life-threatening injury that required surgery, stitches and antibiotics.

The defendant argued that Max bit her dog first, setting off the angry melee.

“I am not convinced that Max bit Blazer first, as the few seconds of an encounter between two raging dogs can be quite chaotic,” Slone wrote in the seven-page decision. “Max would likely have died without emergency vet care.”

Slone awarded $80.65 to the complainant for incidental costs, bringing her total to $750 – half of the $1,500 she was seeking.

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