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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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There, This question relates to an injury sustained to

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Hi there,
This question relates to an injury sustained to my dog whilst under the care of a dog walker.
Our dog walker collects our dog once a week. We give care of our pooch to the dog walker with the pooch on a collar and lead.
The dog is dropped off back to us after an hour's worth of walking with other dogs.
Once day upon returning our dog to us, the dog walker opened her boot, the dog jumped out of her boot without a lead attached and bolted down to our unsecured paddock area. The paddock area neighbours dense woodland.
The dog walker ran after our dog to try and get her back without luck. This was witnessed by two builders on our site.
My wife came out to receive the dog only to be told by the dog walker that she had escaped her control. The dog walker left without assistance.
After 1.5 hours we coerced the dog to return only to find she had sustained an unpleasant injury to her leg. This required emergency treatment at a veterinary hospital that cost circa £340 and and possibly a few pounds to come for re-dressing later on. We do not know if this injury occurred whilst on the walk or not but I am assuming that is besides the point.
I called the dog walker the same evening to explain nicely what had happened. We had a good, well mannered conversation and the dog walker was very apologetic, said she would look to see her insurance details and how to claim for this.
A few days later the dog walker says she is unable to claim as it happened on private property. After I responded with a 'that's a shame but can you settle the bill please' the dog walker has refused to pay citing it isn't her fault in any way.
Am I right to ask her for the medical costs and if I cannot obtain payment from her is small claims the best route?
I run a business employing my wife and my mother in law. Both had to be absent for 2 hours whilst they went to the hospital and I manned the business. The business took a temporary hit whilst I looked after everything but in the spirit of this being an accident I don't wish to claim for anything relating to the business. If I wanted to, could I?
Many thanks
How did she sustain an injury?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

We have absolutely no idea. As the dog bolted before we even knew the dog walker was here, we have no idea. She may have been A-OK and sustained the injury when she escaped or it could have happened on her walk.

That might be an issue.I do think it is likely to be considered negligence of the dog walker to open the boot before the dog was secured. I know it is the type of mistake that anybody might make but it is still negligence.The question really is whether or not the loss is reasonably foreseeable from that act of negligence. I'm not sure an injury necessarily is. It depends on the injury. Had she been struck by traffic it would have been.You could try to argue that the loss of control and possession of your dog was negligence as well. Then you would have a stronger argument.It really depends on the cause of the injury. It might be a proper claim even if this did happen when under the control of the dog walker - for instance if your dog were caught in a trap then it might be argued that it was negligence of the dog walker to take her where there were traps.That said, it is very unlikely she would contest this for £300 or thereabouts. I would have expected her to pay to avoid the publicity and the manpower.Can I clarify anything for you?Jo
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Jo,

One thing that might change things is this:

A few months back the dog walker (already knowing our dog is a flight risk in our paddock) made the mistake of not securing the dog before opening her van. The dog ran off and was missing for 4+ hours. No injury was sustained but we asked the dog walker to control the dog properly when handing her back to us.

Back to present day the same situation has happened again. Does this help us?


I don't think there would be any problem with showing that was negligence. Even without a flight risk issue it is plainly negligence.The question would be whether the loss flows from it.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

In your previous response you said:

"It might be a proper claim even if this did happen when under the control of the dog walker - for instance if your dog were caught in a trap then it might be argued that it was negligence of the dog walker to take her where there were traps."

We live on a busy building site with loose materials and unfinished works all over the place. The paddock is a semi building site. An injury might well have happened due to this. Does this constitute a case where the dog walker should have known better before opening her boot by securing the dog first?

Well, as I said really, clearly she should not have opened her boot before securing the dog.The question is whether or not the injury flows from that. That depends on the type of the injury.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The injury is about 1-1.5" of skin missing from her front left leg. The dog needed to go under anaesthetic to have it stitched up and will need one-two vet visits to have it dressed.

An injury of this nature simply isn't possible when a dog is under control on a lead. The injury simply would never have happened if she was handed back to us on a lead. Does this help?

For example, our dogs are never 'off lead' in our paddock because only 50% of the paddock is nice and safe green area. They go on long training lines whilst we play fetch with them etc.

Does this help?

How did the vet say it might have been caused?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The vet was only speculating but possibly glass, metal or a fence.

It is a laceration by some form of sharp edge then.Is that any more likely where your dog escaped than elsewhere?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I think this sort of injury is really quite unlikely to happen anywhere else such as the park or the playing fields.

This site where we live is undergoing extensive building work and is unfinished.

The paddock (where she ran to) has shards of metal poking up from the ground, sharp waste concrete, glass etc around in various areas. We therefore do not let our dogs off period.

In the 3 years we have lived here we have not had any such injuries with our dogs because they have been on a lead and under control.

The dog walker knows how it is, she has been in the paddock previously and also is aware how we do not let our dogs off at present (only outside of the property such as a park).

The trouble with this is that it only takes an idiot to leave smashed glass somewhere.However, if she was under instructions not to let your dog off at all then you would have a fairly good challenge. Come what may, she wouldn't have been injured if she had been on lead.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks a lot Jo.

It's very annoying, we try our best (huge family site that is about 2 acres in size). There was LOTS of [email protected] around due to 3 house demolitions which largely has been cleaned up but it's like needle in a haystack. There are the odd shards of manmade nasties in the 'unfinished area' of mud but the houses themselves and the rear of the paddock are finished. Come April it'll all be finished, covered and seeded!!

One last question before I let you go, is there any rule of law, any Act I could mention to sound more authoritative on the topic? Whilst I shan't be, could I claim loss wages for the 2 staff members etc?

Not really. This is just simple negligence. You won't be able to claim for lost wages I'm afraid but you do have a claim for the vets bill.
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks a lot Jo, great advice. Take care!