Can a Dog Be Put Down for Biting Another Dog?

two dogs growling at each other

Dogs are the most common pet Americans own, and almost 40% of Floridians own one or more dogs. Considering Florida is home to more than 21.7 million people, that means many dogs are living in the Sunshine State.

While most dog owners take time to train their pets, issues can arise. When dogs bite other dogs, owners must decide what steps to take. On the one hand, some may feel the dog deserves to be punished for its actions. Other dog owners may think the dog deserves a second chance. Ultimately, the decision comes down to how the court interprets the individual circumstances of each situation. 

What are the laws surrounding dog bites?

Dog bites are a common occurrence and can cause serious injury. In most cases, the dog’s owner is liable for any damages caused by their pet. 

Some exceptions reduce the dog owner’s liability. For example, the owner may not be responsible if the dog bit someone trespassing on their property or if they were provoking the dog. For example, if another dog owner walks their dog through your property and yells at your dog, you may not be liable. Contact one of our experienced dog bite lawyers to determine your liability if your dog bites another dog. 

If someone’s dog bites your dog, you should speak to an attorney to determine your rights. You may have legal grounds to pursue a lawsuit. However, you may be liable if your negligence contributed to or caused the incident. 

What are the consequences for a dog that bites another dog?

When a dog bites another dog, the consequences can vary, depending on the bite’s severity and the state or municipality in which the incident occurs. Generally, the dog’s owner may be held liable if their dog causes injuries or property damage. The dog may be quarantined or euthanized. 

Some states have enacted “dog bite statutes” that place greater liability on the dog’s owner in the event of a bite, while others have no such statutes. Florida dog owners can reduce liability by posting a sign on their property to warn people about their dogs. 

Can a dog be put down for biting another dog?

When a dog bites another dog, it may be considered self-defense if the other dog acted aggressively and threatened the first dog. However, if the first dog acted aggressively and caused the other dog to bite, it may be more likely that the courts would put the first dog down.

Animal control and the courts can decide to euthanize a dog. A Florida law allowed the state to euthanize dogs deemed dangerous, but owners could appeal. Judges have ruled against euthanizing dogs based on factors contributing to the bite, even when dogs bite people. 

What should you do if your dog bites another dog?

Dog fights are frightening, but it’s crucial that you stay calm if your dog bites another pet. The best thing you can do is locate items you can use to separate the dogs and approach cautiously so that you aren’t injured. Avoiding eye contact is one way to keep the conflict from escalating. 

If your dog bites another dog, you should:

  • Separate the dogs. Interjecting yourself into a dog fight can be dangerous, but covering the dogs with blankets or jackets is an effective way to contain dogs without injury. You can also spray them with vinegar water. Keep your body away from their mouths to avoid injury.
  • Assess the damage. Visually inspect wounds to determine their severity.
  • Clean the wound. Wash the wounds with soapy water and apply hydrogen peroxide or Neosporin to prevent infections.
  • Contact the owner of the other dog. Many dog owners put tags with contact information on their dog’s collars. If the dog has no contact information, take the animal to a vet and have it scanned for a microchip.
  • Photograph and document injuries. You can use physical evidence to establish liability.
  • Collect witness information. Collect the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the incident, if possible.
  • Seek veterinary care if necessary. 

What steps should you take if another dog bites your dog?

Use the steps you’d take if your dog bit another dog. Once you’ve completed those steps, it’s crucial that you also contact a personal injury lawyer. Although Florida’s dangerous dog laws seem straightforward, many factors determine liability and consequences. That’s why you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer will investigate the incident, take appropriate steps to ensure you’re compensated, and use medical evidence to support your claims and get you the compensation you deserve.


Cirjak, A. (2020). The Most Popular Animals Owned As Pets in the US

FLA. STAT. § 767.04. (2022).

QuickFacts Florida. (2022). 

Padi is saved: Judge says Florida law ordering dog to be euthanized is unconstitutional. (2015).

Pet Ownership Statistics by State 2022. (2022). 

Ray, K. (2022). Dangerous dog held in isolation for nearly 15 months due to court delays.

About the Author

attorney Jack Bernstein standing in front of a blurred background

Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.

Jack Bernstein is a hard working and highly motivated personal injury attorney in Miami, Florida with over three decades of experience. He is a strategist and idea person, with a genuine passion for helping his firm’s clients. If you've been injured, contact Jack Bernstein today for a free evaluation of your case.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.