Whether you own small livestock for pleasure or to generate income, if one of your animals gets killed by a neighbor’s dog, not only do you experience emotional distress but also financial loss. Because the laws pertaining to this scenario vary from one state to another, you may want to seek legal advice from an attorney who specializes in farm law.
Although you cannot sue your neighbor for emotional distress in the state of New Jersey, if the dog killed, chased, harassed, threatened, or injured one of your livestock animals, you have several options for recouping the value of the animal.
You can try to talk to your neighbor. While keeping your emotions in check, either ask that person to come to your property to see the damage or take photos with you. Sometimes, two parties can come up with an acceptable agreement that includes the neighbor restraining his dog and paying for your vet bills or the replacement cost of the animal.
Whether your neighbor is willing to make the appropriate changes and help you financially or not, you should contact local animal control to make an official report of the incident. Ultimately, an officer will talk to you and your neighbor to get both sides of the story. As part of the investigation, the animal control officer will also gather information from you regarding the fair market value of the farm animal you lost, any damage to your property, or other details you feel are credible to your case.
If the officer believes you were truthful, the information gets passed on to the board of county commissioners who will either agree or disagree with what you claimed to be the monetary value of the animal. If the board disagrees, you can always appeal. If it agrees, it will demand the neighbor to pay. Along with that, local animal control will require your neighbor to make appropriate changes that guarantee his dog never gets out again.
Filing a Lawsuit
However, if your neighbor refuses to comply with the board or animal control, you can file a lawsuit. In addition to any official reports, you will need a lot of photos showing the deceased animal, how your neighbor’s dog got out and onto your property, additional damage, and so on.
If possible, capture a date and time-stamped photo of the neighbor’s dog out after the incident, and get a veterinarian’s report that details specific bodily damages to prove a dog attack. With everything combined and by having an attorney on your side, you have an excellent chance of winning your case in court.
In a situation where your neighbor let his dog out intentionally or maliciously for whatever reason, the local prosecutor may file criminal charges. With that, your neighbor could get convicted of animal cruelty, and you could be awarded financial compensation by the court. With so many variables, the minute you realize that your neighbor is not willing to take responsibility for the death of your farm animal, contact a reputable attorney.