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Pit Bull vs. Golden Retriever? May 30, 2008

Posted by Attorney Jonathan Groth in FAQ Personal Injury.
Tags: , , , , ,

Guess who started the fight?  Linda Spice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently wrote an article about a pit bull that attacked a golden retriever in Port Washington, Wisconsin.  The pit bull’s owner was dragged across the street as the dog ran at two golden retrievers and their owner.  The police were at the scene almost immediately and shot the pit bull. 

This brings up an interesting question.  In Wisconsin, the law states that if a dog bites and previously caused injury to person or property then the dog’s owner is liable for double the damages caused by the dog bite. 

If this pit bull had bit the golden retriever and then almost immediately afterwards the owner of the golden retriever would double damages apply? 

If you are in this situation it’s important to hire an attorney that deals with these situations.  I’d be happy to help. 


Jon Groth is a Wisconsin Personal Injury Attorney handling cases throughout Wisconsin and most recently in Port Washington, Wauwatosa, Ozaukee and Milwaukee.


1. Eric Stone - July 24, 2008

Do you know how the dog was raised? If you do why did you not say that in this article. I am a proud owner of an American Pitbull Terrier.
Because of people like YOU my dog gets punnished for things he didn’t do. If YOU don’t know the whole story don’t print it. If you do know the whole story let it be known. I want you to send back some input.

2. jonpgroth - July 24, 2008


I linked to the article in my post. I know as much as you do. I’m glad your dog hasn’t bit or injured anyone. If it does, then you are responsible to pay the damages caused. Just like if your dog was a pug, lab or dalmation. I’ve helped a number of people bit by pit bulls. I’ve also helped victims of akita bites and rottweiler bites and doberman bites. I have not had many clients who were bit by golden retrievers. That is my experience. The purpose behind my post was to show a unique example of Wisconsin’s double damages/strict liability law.


3. Terry Shore - July 25, 2008

My sister-in-law’s small dog ran across the street into a property that the owners had a Great Dane in the front yard. The Great Dane bit and shook the small dog for about a minute and let go when the owner came out of the house. The small dog didnt die, but has life threatening injuries. The hospital bills are mounting. After paying the first hospital bill, the owner of the Great Dane refuses to pay for the rest of the bills. Wouldnt they be liable for the bills as well as a damages and lost wages?

4. jonpgroth - July 28, 2008


I’m very sorry to hear about what happened. In Wisconsin pets are considered property. Your sister-in-law would have to proceed showing that the Great Dane’s owner was negligent in the manner in which they kept/trained their dog. Their “property” caused damage to your sister-in-law’s “property” and therefore the neighbor should pay for the medical bills, mileage to the vet and lost wages. If the damages are less than $5,000.00 you can take them to small claims court.

In this situation Wisconsin does NOT allow for pain and suffering for the dog owner. See Rabideau v. City of Racine 627 N.W.2d 725 (Wis. 2001)

Good Luck! You may want to talk with a lawyer. An attorney may take the case depending on the size of the medical bills. Be prepared for lawyers to ask for a retainer and work on an hourly basis vs. contingency.


5. brian donald - August 15, 2008

everybody shut up and whoever responds back too yah

6. Chris - June 17, 2009

My dog (sheltie) was restrained on my property. The neighors son’s
pitt-bull attacked my dog. The owner was not home during the attack.
The keeper(mother) was the person the pitt got away from. During the attack the keeper (mother) claim she was bit by my dog trying to restrain her dog. The keeper was fined a dog at large ticket. My vet bills are $3000 who is responsible? Who’s responsible for the dog bit?

jonpgroth - June 17, 2009


Good questions. If the neighbor’s pitbull attacked your dog then their home owners insurance should be notified of the incident. Have they? Have they taken responsibility for the bills? Regarding your neighbor’s bite, were there any witnesses? Contributory negligence applies to situations like this. Contributory/comparative negligence in Wisconsin is a comparison between two negligent parties. If a jury finds the pitbull to be more than 50% negligent then you are not responsible for her injuries. I’d be happy to speak with you at your convenience to discuss this in more detail.

7. illustrator5 - November 15, 2009

I am having issues with my neighbors pit bull mix. When they are not home and I either enter my driveway which is 10 feet from their house or let my dogs into the yard. This pit goes nuts barking and bashing against the windows. I barely can get my dogs out to go potty because of this because I am afraid this dog will come through the window and it knows how to climb a 6 foot fence! Not only that he barks at us and guests that pull into our driveway! I have one friend who parks on the street because of this.

Today I came back from walking my dogs and had left one in the yard when I came into my house with the other. I hear the pit barking next door but see its trying to jump out a second story OPEN window which is right over my yard! By the time I hit the back door the dog had gotten onto the roof but the owner got it before it jumped! My dog would have been killed! Needless to say I went balistic!

Even after this they left and the dog proceeded to bark and bash windows when my husband was out working in the garage! Its like they don’t get it….!!

I finally wrote them a note to either muzzle the dog when they are not home or lock it where it has no access to windows and visual of my yard. They locked him in the addition tonight but I think I am going to file a police report!

When the pit is with his owner he is sweet as pie! She did have another pit mix that chased a mail carrier into his truck at their previous home. I would also like to ad they are in a dog related business that training should be known and they temperment test dogs! (Whats wrong with this picture!)

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