We were sent an interesting article recently:
As the media spotlight becomes increasingly focused on our day-to-day lives, a common experience is being broadcast and published more and more: dog attacks. As public outcry increases when these dog attacks occur, there are some interesting legal and social issues that arise when considering these incidents. But whose fault really is it? Dogs are at the whim of humans, and in many cases are victims themselves.
In the United Kingdom, it is illegal to let your dog be dangerously out of control anywhere in a public place. However, it is also illegal to let your dog be dangerously out of control in your own home, or in another private place such as a neighbour's house or garden. This means that training is absolutely vital to prevent your dog from being seen as a risk, even if you never let them out of your house. The Dogs Act is at the root of English dog bite law, and it permitted Courts to order the destruction of dangerous dogs. Parts of the Act were replaced by the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, which significantly toughened the approach.
In a recent TV episode of Judge Rinder, the claimant, Mr Veneziani, received wounds to his arm and hand when another dog grabbed his dog by the scruff. When attempting to break the fight up, his own dog bit him on the hand. Judge Rinder found that Mr Veneziani, and his dog, were not at fault: the other party, Mrs Lawson, had let her dog run without a leash, and the dog was out of control.
In the Judge Rinder case, Mr Veneziani agreed that Mrs Lawson's dog should be given another chance; but in most dog attack cases it is usually the dog who suffers the harshest consequences, by being destroyed. The owner is also not without punishment: they can be fined, or even imprisoned. Another aspect of the remedy for a dog attack is making a personal injury claim. To make a personal injury claim, you must be able to show that the dog's owner knew, or ought to have known, that the dog was dangerous and liable to attack. Georgia Briscoe, head of the legal team for Patient Claim Line - sponsor of the show - states that a TV show can decide for small claims but when facing life threatening situations - like a dog bite - proper legal advice is needed.
In other cases, the dog may be the victim. At the 2015 Crufts competition, an award-winning Irish setter, Jagger, died within 36 hours of competing. Jagger's owner believed that Jagger had been poisoned by another competitor's owner, however it is currently thought that the poisoning actually happened some time after Jagger left the event. The title of ‘best in show’ is highly prized and, unfortunately, dogs can be at risk of being subjected to the malicious actions of other owners. As much as we may read about dog bite incidents in the news, there are no doubt just as many cases of neglect or outright cruelty to dogs. This just goes to show the degree to which we need to safeguard dogs from suffering as well.
While both dogs and people have been known to hurt each other, in most cases they get along well. Dogs are known as “man's best friend” for a reason: they are loyal, protective, and display constant affection and love for their owners. As the coverage of dog attacks is on the rise, we must also remember to look out for our furry friends and ensure that they are looked after and protected. Whether it is a person that has been hurt, or a dog that has been harmed, we should look to methods for how to prevent these things from occurring, rather than focusing on who is to blame.