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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71048
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hi looking for advice on a court hearing for my dog causing

Customer Question

Hi looking for advice on a court hearing for my dog causing an injury (not a dog bite) to a victim (but does have a contingent destruction order from a previous incident).My dad received a letter from the police to attend a court hearing on 10th December for our dog a lurcher/ irish wolfhound cross under section 3(1) and (4) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.In July 2014 our dog escaped from our home and business premises to outside where people were calling and shouting our dog to coax him back inside. a lady who knows our dog (she always gave him food and kisses through the gates every time she saw our dog) tried to get him to get back inside. And I think with everyone else shouting at him to get him back inside it made him scared and he unfortunately jumped on the lady he knows causing her to stumble to the ground (he normally jumps up to the gate and fence to get kisses from her so I think this is why he jumped on her) and broke her left hip (she has fragile bones from an illness) and there was no dog bite.We were so upset and kept asking her if she is ok, put a blanket over her and made sure she was ok when the ambulance arrived. The police also came at that time and the injured lady told the police that she just fell and no dog injured her (I did say to her beforehand to tell the truth about our dog jumping on her because I felt really bad my dog did that but she didn't want to get him put down because she loved our dog and said herself he seemed very scared from all the shouting).She went to hospital stayed there for a week after having a hip operation and we were still on good terms with her. We were always asking to see if she was ok and did she need anything. When she was back home she was fine with us for a while but I guess she changed her mind with friends and family probably saying to her to take action against us for compensation as we have a local business store. She stopped communicating with us since then.The police came late August for a statement from my dad as our dog is under his name. Now we received this letter for a court hearing and we don't know what to do as we have no pet insurance and will need to find out from home insurance if they can cover for us for this incident that is not a dog bite but still is a personal injury. And also the fact that I went to court last year for our dog biting someone while in public place.Unfortunately the dog bite incident from June 2013 is a contingent destruction order on our dog from when I was walking my dog he bit someone who was trying to stroke him while I was looking away for a moment. This incident wouldn't have gone to court if my dad didn't fail to tell me that police came in one day after that incident in June 2013 for our dog to wear a muzzle and lead at all times as a caution. But as I did not know this when I took my dog out several times after the incident with no muzzle on my dog, the victim reported me to police for failing to follow a caution that I was unaware of which unfortunately the court order the contingent destruction order in September 2013 as I didn't get advice until I requested for a duty solicitor on the day of the hearing.How much compensation can a victim claim for a hip injury by a dog?Now I'm really worried and upset with this incident causing serious injury without a dog bite that my dog will definitely be ordered to be destroyed by the court this time round. Is there any chance my dog will not be ordered to be destroyed? I'm absolutely distraught that my dog unfortunately injured this lady but I'm so scared I'll lose my dog. What could be the likely outcome for my dad and my dog?I hope someone can help me asap.Thanks.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
So, in short, your dog is on an order and there has been another incident?
What does she allege took place?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Yes my dog is on an order from September 2013 under the contingent destruction order to wear muzzle and leads at all time when in public from the dog bite in July 2013. The front of our business premises where he escaped is a public place.
She alleges that Tyson came at her jumped on her and bit her on the arm and her legs and that blood was everywhere even though there was no bites marks of such or blood and a witness was with my dad while comforting the victim after the incident and the witness our neighbour saw no dog bites - she even told this to the police in her witness statement. The victim has also been alleging to other people although I don't think it is in her statement that she had her whole arm bandage from the "dog bite". But even the ambulance who arrived after the incident examined her on the floor before putting her in the stretcher saw no bite marks or blood.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
How was he able to escape?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
He was in the backyard behind our premises for fresh air and to do his business. Unfortunately my mum needed to get some stock for the shop from the back store. She left the shop door to the store room open and our dog went through that door into our shop and at that time a customer was entering the shop, our dog then escaped from the shop front door opening. Normally my mum and everyone always close the back door when we need to get stock from the back but failed to close at this incident.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
It is difficult to say what could happen here.
Obviously you are not in the best position. This is a dog with a previous incident on a contingent destruction order which was breached and the injuries caused would be considered severe by the court. It does generally get fairly difficult to argue that your dog is not a danger to public safety in those circumstances.
In terms of sentence, I would brace yourself for something like an unpaid work order. It does carry custody but that isn't likely. A fine is not appropriate really and most of the other sentences have no real nexus to the offence.
I would brace yourself for the worst with your dog. I have been to save dogs in the past that were on contingent destruction orders on occasions. Destruction orders are rare in the grand scheme of things. It would be dangerous to rely on it though. You need an expert report upon this dog if you hope to have any chance of keeping him.
In terms of compensation, broken hips are a serious injury. Your house insurance will probably cover this. She isn't going to get very much for the injuries per se but if she can show that it caused her economic loss, such as loss of earnings, then her claim may well increase.
The other thing you need to sort out is the fact of the allegation. If it is just that your dog jumped up at her then although the injuries are severe the actual level of aggression is low and it might be that a court could address that by adding a condition to the CDO that he be kept within secure premises. If it is a bite as well then it is at the higher end.
CPS are not likely to accept your version of events unless there is literally no evidence to support her position. A court would say that it would make a material difference to sentence so you may well need a Newton hearing on the point. The problem with those is that if you lose then you lose credit for a guilty plea.
Can I clarify anything for you?