WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 08, 2013, 10:05 PM

Insurance able to help with dog damages

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - The owner of the dogs who attacked and killed a dozen sheep is pleading guilty to having his dogs run at large.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY Staff Reports, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - The owner of the dogs who attacked and killed a dozen sheep is pleading guilty to having his dogs run at large.

The two huskies belong to Doug Petersen and his wife, Crystal. They escaped from the Petersen home Tuesday morning and somehow got inside the NDSU research barn.

Petersen was fined $500 for each dog, the maximum under city ordinance. In addition to the fines, the owners of the two dogs will likely face thousands of dollars in restitution costs from NDSU.

How far can insurance go to help cover dog damage costs?

Dogs have a mind of their own, and sometimes that means they cause some damage. But the responsibility for that damage lies with the owner.

Usually, they are covered under homeowners or renters insurance, but the specifics can vary from company to company.

Tiny, six pound Honey Bear here probably won't be wreaking havoc in a sheep barn any time soon.

Brittany Wallace, Dog Owner: "She's pretty harmless."

But owner Brittany Wallace says she has owned large dogs in the past, breeds similar to the huskies that killed 12 sheep at NDSU.

Wallace: "Huskies and Samoyeds are the kind of dogs that are runners and they do tend to need a lot of exercise. So them running and being out is sometimes hard to manage.”

The reality for dog owners is that pets sometimes get out. But the damage that they cause is typically covered by insurance.

Cory Theuninck, RJ Bailey Insurance Center: "Dogs would be covered under the general liability of any homeowners, condo, or renter’s policy."

The specifics, like the amount covered, vary by the company and the policy. Some providers will refuse to insure a homeowner who owns a certain breed of dog.

And in the case of the two huskies, they weren't at their owners' North Fargo home when the damage was done.

Theuninck: "If it comes off the premises, it's just going to be based on your company. You'd probably be best served to contact your current insurance company and see if you're covered for that event."

Sure, Fido could get out and cause some hefty damage, but Wallace says the benefits outweigh the trouble.

Wallace: "Dogs are definitely worth the hassle."

There are also a few insurance agencies nationwide that offer dog liability insurance for those who are uninsured or underinsured.