When Dogs Attack

14th April 2016

During the last General Election campaign our own Minister for Sport and Fine Gael TD Michael Ring was bitten by a dog while canvassing. Thankfully he was not injured and lost no votes because of it!

However, there is a serious side to owning dogs. There is a great responsibility on dog owners to keeps the dogs under control at all times.

The Control of Dogs Act 1986 and the Control of Dogs (Amendment) Act 1992 set out a lot of rules and guidelines for owners. In simple terms, if a dog attacks and causes injury to any other person, it is the responsibility of the owner to deal with the injury and any claim that might arise.

This means that any dog owner must be responsible and must ensure at all times that their dog or dogs are kept under control. Placing a “Beware of Dog” sign does not grant immunity from the responsibilities provided for in the Acts. By erecting such a sign, owners could reasonably be considered to acknowledge that their dog is dangerous and therefore, conversely place themselves with greater responsibility.

Many household insurance policies have provisions which cover for attacks by dogs. It is important that if you do have a dog that is aggressive or not friendly, that you are sufficiently covered with this policy. If you do not have insurance, then any claim that may arise from a dog attack would have to come from your own pocket.

The law is slightly different when it comes to trespassers. Even if somebody is breaking into your house and they are attacked by a dog, there may be scope for the burglar to pursue the owner of the dog for a claim in damages. The burglar must establish that the dog was inherently dangerous before such a claim will succeed. In all likelihood, bringing such a claim will be fraught with risk because the burglar / trespasser will have to first of all show that they had reasonable cause to be on the property in the first place.

The legislation not only covers dog attacks on humans but also on other animals. Angry dogs can be particularly troublesome to livestock. Injury to livestock does not necessarily take the form of a bite or a mauling but can just simply arise with animals being worried, which may in turn result in miscarrying of calves or lambs, as the case may be. Again, the same rules apply with the responsibility for any dog attacking any other animal, resting with the owner at all times.

For further details, please contact – https://www.odwyersolicitors.ie/contact/