Dog injury Legal Question
had a legal question regarding a dog bite. We have a rescue chow mix dog around 60 pounds. We have a fence in our front yard so she doesn't escape. Our neighbor was walking her small dog(10 pounds or so) WITHOUT! a leash, our dog was in the front yard. The small dog was at our fence barking and taunting our dog and our dog was barking back. Our neighbor was about three houses down the street from her dog. There is a spot in our fence where if she turned her head sideways our dog can get part of her head through the bottom. The bold little dog got really close and my dog was able to grab the dog. my neighbor came running to get her dog. She grabbed her dog to try and pull her back but let go in fear that she would hurt her dog worst. My dog pulled the little dog through the bottom and started to bite it. we came running out to intervene. When we got the little dog she stood up and seemed not to be that badly hurt, so we rushed her to a close by vet. The injuries ended up being worst then we thought and the dog is in critical condition. We have been very sympathetic and have been paying the vet bills because the fence had that spot where she could partially get her head through, our dog is to large to get out but her dog was small enough to get through. The bills keep piling up and we can't help but feel she should take some of the responsibility because her dog was off a leash. Our dog has never bitten or been aggressive towards people just other dogs near her territory, two incidents where a UPS leaving the gate open and friends leaving the gate open created situations where our dog got loose, both times someone with a smaller dog was walking by our house and she bit the dog. they were very sympathetic and we payed the vet bills and that was the end of it. We are know very diligent in making sure our gate is always closed. we have a beware of dog sign and whenever we hear her barking at other dogs we bring her inside.
We are trying to do the right thing and its causing us quite a bit of stress, but we can't help but think she should take some of the responsibility because her dog was not on a leash. The vet bills may end up being upwards of 5000 dollars, is it out of line to ask her to pay half the medical bills? and if it turns to a legal situation where do we stand? I should also mention she knows our dog, and she is aware of her behavior.
Thank you for your time.