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Dog Bite or Scratch

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Junior Member

I just want to say sorry for the long post. I live in Cleveland, OH and rent a house with my husband and my 12 year old daughter who is epileptic and has cerebral palsy. We were given a 10 month old rat terrier for her 12th birthday. We also have a 2 year old miniature schnauzer.
A few weeks ago, our landlord brought over a man to look at possible water damage in our home. He had told me he was going to be there at 11:45 a.m. At about 12:30 he did show up and had not told me he was running late. Since the dog does bark and jump, I have a cage I wanted to put him in but being home alone I needed time to gather him up and put him away. I opened the door to ask the landlord to move the car up in the driveway so my husband could pull in the driveway as well. As the landlord and handyman moved the car, I went to put the dog in the cage.
This is where it gets weird. The landlord came in without knocking and I still had not fully contained the dog and as I thought the rat terrier got agitated seeing strangers in the home. He pushed out of the cage and started jumping on the handyman. The handyman hadnt stayed in the kitchen but came up close behind me while i was trying to contain the dog - which I thought was really strange. The dog continued to jump on him and started growling. I tried to grab the dog and he jumped out of my arms and continued to jump on the man.
At that point, the handyman and my landlord went outside. The barking was so loud I didn't know if they said anything or not. I thought they just went outside so I could get the dog in the cage.
When I finally got him in. I went outside and they were gone. I called the landlord and asked what happened. He told me the dog scratched the handyman and he was going to get him a band aid and cover it because it was bleeding a little. And he wanted to know why I didnt have the dog in the cage? I said I was trying but they kind of caught me off guard we don't keep the dog caged p all the time, that isn't normal. We only had the puppy a couple of weeks and he wasn't exposed to strangers.
Anyway, our landlord called me back 5 minutes later and said the handyman wanted to go to the ER because he believes I have a vicious dog and he was actually bitten and not scratched. I was kind of shocked because I didn't see him bite the guy and neither one of them said anything to me while they were there. I knew the rat terrier was jumping and growling but I didn't see him bite him and wanted to know why no one said anything or show the bite to me before they left.
I got scared and called my husband and told him what the landlord told me and he came home. My daughter was visiting her girlfriend and we figured we better prepare her for the possibility that her puppy may be taken from her. We didnt know what was going on. My husband called the landlord to hear again what happened. The landlord didn't really want to be bothered at that time and repeated to my husband that the handyman was bitten and was taking him to the hospital.
A few hours later the landlord called and said the handyman told him now that he was bitten twice and was being seen by the doctor. Again, I told my husband I never saw that happen and they left before they said anything to me. I said I can't imagine a 10 month old puppy doing that much damage and they weren't in the house that long. Also, if they would have waited and knocked before entering the house, I would have had a chance to get him in the cage.
Another few hours passed and the landlord called and said the handyman needs $174.00 for an antibiotic and pain pills. We told him we didn't have that kind of money but Giant Eagle offers free antiobiotics and possibly lower rate on pain pills He said he would tell the guy that but we would be willing to pay for it if he provides the bill for it.
The landlord ended up giving the guy the $174.00 and he only gave us a pricesheet and now wants reimbursed for the money he gave the handyman. We have asked for the discharge papers, bills, doctor notes, anything and everything. The man refuses to give them to us stating he doesn't have to give us anything, that he is calling the shots. He claims to have lost wages, pain and suffering, he is being evicted because he is unable to work. Yet, he won't give us any bills, hospital documentation. He is self-employed and said he chose not to go to work. He said he wants $2,000.00 to start with and wants cash and wants us to meet him in person to discuss further compensation from us. We asked again for the bills and hospital documentation, pictures, etc. He still refuses. We had our dog quarantined, given another rabies vaccination and we are getting pressure from this man to hand over at minimum $2000.00 without any proof that this man was even bitten. I was told by the hospital that the doctor cannot diagnose if it is a dog bite that he had to have told the ER why he was there and he could have said anything he wanted and if he said it was a dog bite, they have to report it. There is also no police report.
Now 2 weeks later, our landlord finally admitted that it was 3 marks on the man's top of his hand and when he went to see him the next day, he had a piece of gauze on it. He also said that last week you couldn't even see anything on his hand. He never mentioned he got a tetanus shot or anything. So now I am beginning to believe this man is trying to extort money from us for no reason. That would explain why he won't hand over the bills or discharge papers. He probably never went to get the prescriptions filled and it probably was just a scratch like my landlord originally reported to me.
My question is can we go after this man for anything to make him prove he was bitten? We are tired of being harassed by this man for payment on something he won't give us documentation for. Our landlord wants his money that he says he gave this man, but to be honest, we have no proof he even gave $174.00 to him either.


Senior Member
Call his bluff then. Do not give him a penny until he produces receipts. He could try and file against you in court, however the hospital report will document they could not determine it was a bite, if you are correct in your story.


Junior Member
Thank you for your comment. Yes, my story is correct. We want to do the right thing, but every attorney we spoke with said not to pay him until we see receipts and documentation.

They are concerned about this man's aggressiveness in pursuing us for money and wanting us to pay for his being evicted 3 days after the "injury." There is no way he should be evicted after 3 days. He wanted cash that day and wouldn't show us a bite or anything, and I felt i had a right to see this - and he wanted our dog put down right away.


Senior Member
OP, I am from Ohio. I am completely aware of the caliber of "handyman" most landlords have. The way I read it is he "thinks" he is making all the right moves. He is just not smart enough to realize it will all unravel with time and patience. I gather Landlord does not want to get in the middle, however, does not want to be sued also. Remember, handyman was working for him at the time. Neutral is a good place for him IMO.


Senior Member
I would ignore future calls from the handyman, but I WOULD pay the landlord the $174.00


Thank you for your comment. Yes, my story is correct. We want to do the right thing, but every attorney we spoke with said not to pay him until we see receipts and documentation.

They are concerned about this man's aggressiveness in pursuing us for money and wanting us to pay for his being evicted 3 days after the "injury." There is no way he should be evicted after 3 days. He wanted cash that day and wouldn't show us a bite or anything, and I felt i had a right to see this - and he wanted our dog put down right away.
You are NOT obligated to pay this man anything until he can prove he was bitten by the dog. Perhaps a minor scratch is all that took place.

I have a problem with someone leaving my apt. and walking back in without knocking or waiting until I let them in again. It may have been a good idea if you mentioned to them the first time they came in that you are in the process of putting your dog in a cage so they can be aware.

Still, if the maintainance worker does not want to give any sort of proof of his damages, you should not pay him anything.


Senior Member
How flippin' long does it take to put a dog (that you can pick up) into a crate?
I have a boxer and a rat terrier. The boxer is pretty easy to crate. He's a big, calm beastie. The rat terrier... well. At night, all I have to do is say "Go to bed", and he goes right in. If I need to crate him because we have someone coming over, we have to essentially box him into a corner so he has nowhere to run and grab him up. Rat terriers are evil little energetic things, and when they don't want to do something, it's hard to get them to. They're also insanely fast. I have no trouble believing the OP had a hard time crating hers. Their speed makes them excellent mousers, but it also makes them very hard to catch. It took us 10 minutes to catch him this morning so we could take him to get his nails clipped. :( If I'm being honest about the situation, rat terriers are probably not a very good choice for a pet for someone who doesn't have a ton of experience with stubborn, yappy little energy balls. I know that we wish we had thought it through a bit more.

As for the bite situation, I'd have a very hard time believing a rat terrier could cause $2,000 dollars worth of medical bills to an adult. They weigh about 10 lbs. and mine has never successfully broken my skin. That said, he's never actually bitten us for any reason other than getting a little too excited during play time, so I probably shouldn't say anything. He kills mice pretty effectively.
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