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Monday, April 7, 2014

danger of dogs .... and dangerous dog law... !!

Heard of ~ Cynophobia !  Dogs  -  one of the most adored pets – the domestic dog in all likelihood is  the first of the animals to be domesticated and used as companion in hunting in earlier days. Dogs are considered man’s best ally and among the most sought after pets ~ to some they bring endless joy and fun. For many, they are too scary…. One shudders to think of walking alone in by-lanes especially in the night time, when suddenly a stray dog starts barking, making a few more join and perhaps giving a chase…..too scary… perhaps there are two types that scare …….. one is the street (stray) mongrels.. then the so called ‘pets’ …. at beach and other public places, people would let loose the big dogs ….to those frightened passer-bys – they would say, their dog is well trained and would do no harm ! – would one fearlessly believe them … menacing to say the least. 

Often one hears of dogs pouncing and biting people.  More so, of dog owners letting loose their mongrels and not caring when it attacks lesser mortals.  There are some who cruelly enjoy the fear of the poor.  There used to be stories of postman, sales girls and others who would take to their heels after unwittingly entering a posh premises without knowledge of a dog. 

Whilst dog bite is common, the law relating to it is not.  In India we do not have a specialized law relating to dog bite but would perhaps could still pursue under torts and common law.  In US most States have statute imposing liability on dog owner for all dog bites, irrespective of whether the dog was a good dog or not.  The victim gets compensation from the dog owners homeowners or renters insurance.  In some places, the liability would ensue only when the owner could be accused of negligence, intentional or violative of a leash law or other animal control law.   

In UK there is ‘dangerous dog’ …. Conceptually, not the ones that will bite always, but those which present great risk of serious injury – not going by what it has done, but by what others of its class had done. Dog attacks are attacks on humans by feral or domestic dogs.  In UK, reportedly, injuries from very minor to significant (severe to fatal) arising out of dog attacks  – are common, with fifty percent of the payout of home insurance due to attacks committed by homeowners' dogs.  Over there they consider, dangerous dogs as a major problem.  By some accounts, dog bites are a major child-health problem exceeding the total combined number of cases of measles, whooping cough and mumps in the UK each year. Some of them require plastic surgery. 

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that was introduced in response to various incidents of serious injury or death resulting from attacks by aggressive and uncontrolled dogs, particularly on children.  Under the Act (amended in 1997) it is illegal to own any Specially Controlled Dogs without specific exemption from a court. The dogs have to be muzzled and kept on a lead in public, they must be registered and insured, neutered, tattooed and receive microchip implants. The Act also bans the breeding, sale and exchange of these dogs, even if they are on the Index of Exempted Dogs. The four types identified by the Act are : Pit Bull Terrier; Japanese Tosa; Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro. The Act applies in England, Wales and Scotland, with a similar act in Ireland.
Japanese Tosa : Picture credit :

Understand that in some other country, a “dangerous” dog is one who : has killed or seriously injured a person; has killed or seriously injured a domestic animal, while in a public space or while on private property, other than property owned or occupied by the person responsible for the dog, or  an animal control officer has reasonable grounds to believe is likely to kill or seriously injure a person.

Read that in case a pet dog escaping the tenement and getting into a scuffle with another dog and injures it – when there is no other witness and the affected dog’s owner pursues the case, animal control authorities could come to the scene, impound the dog and put on a destruction order.  During the period it is impounded, the dog would be on solitary confinement with no human intervention whatsoever and could develop health complications. There the owner would get friends, neighbours and other dog owners to attest on the friendly (!) character of the offending dog and have it released – sometimes, still the destruction order could have the dog eliminated… and people comment that one of the  problems with the “dangerous dog” laws in British Columbia is that the process – from impoundment to trial - is unreasonably long and does not provide the “defendant” dog owners with a fair chance to save their dog. ~ and it is suggested that even when an incident is reported at private place, one does have the right to refuse Animal control from coming in. 

So much so for those intimidating dogs ……….. I am no great fan of dogs ~ do not suffer from ‘cynophobia’ though… Cynophobia is the abnormal fear of dogs.  It is classified as a specific phobia, under the subtype "animal phobias”. Whether you have mortal fear or not, it makes sense to stay away from an angry dog….

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

27th Mar 2o14.

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