Do we have to put our dog down because it bit a neighbor’s child?

Your Life
Dr. Gelasia Marquez
October, 2013

My dog bit a neighbor’s child – it was the first time, and the kid was teasing him. Although the insurance company says the dog gets ‘one strike,’ our neighbors want our dog put down. What do we do with our beloved pet?

This is a no-win situation for everyone involved. I suggest a conversation between you and your neighbors. If possible, invite a mediator from the Humane Society to be present.

Although any breed of dog can bite, many communities have enacted breed-specific legislation that prohibits ownership of certain breeds, such as pit bulls and others. It will be good for you to learn, if your community has enacted any legislation regarding the breed of your dog.

In most cases, the dogs’ owners are responsible for paying the bill, because they have a legal responsibility to prevent their pets from injuring people or damaging property.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.” (2418) It’s important to keep in mind that while we love our pets, protecting human life is most important.


Dr. Gelasia Marquez is a psychologist and family counselor.