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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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A 12-14 year old boy approached my dog saying he loved dogs

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A 12-14 year old boy approached my dog saying he loved dogs and proceeded to stroke my dog when I said my dog was "normally friendly but he had problems with his ears". My dog tolerated it for a while then bit the child causing hthe back of his hand to bleed. I asked the boy to wait and I would take him home. He proceeded to walk off. I didn't want to frighten him any further so took my dog home then went out to look for the boy. I met the boy with his mother and told her it was my dog who had bit her son. She asked me what had happened so I told her. She then turned to her son and asked him why he would touch a dog he doesn't know and without knowing the owners. I told her that the dog had never done this before. She asked me how old my dog was. I said he was 7 and that he had grown up with 3 of my children and 2 house rabbits. She said it could be possible that he was old. She said her son would now need a tetanus as he hadn't had one. I offered to take them both to the hospital but she said she was going to the GP and she would ask her partner to take them. I gave her my name and number in case she needed it. We then left on mutual terms.
Later on that evening, she called me and said that her GP had referred her to the hospital and that ther son had been given 2 butterfly stitches and some tablets. She said that people were on her back to get compensation and that instead of going through the courts and me having to pay thousands of pounds, she would like to settle this just between us and would only ask for 300, 400 or 500 pounds. She said that as my dog was a "rockweiller" he should have been muzzled. I said I would need time to do my own research about this because as far as I was aware this was not the case. She told me that she was going abroad at the end of the week and that she would need a response before then.
Please advise me of what my rights are. I have never been in a situation like this before. My dog has never shown this sort of behaviour despite being around children of various ages. Would it be better to go through the courts? Should this entire incident be reported to the authorities?
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
The mother said that people were on her back to get compensation and apologised numerous times at the end of the telephone conversation.

Are you asking if you are liable?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
As much as I feel concerned about the boy, I am concerned about my rights too. Yes I am asking if I am still liable even though I warned the boy about my dogs ears.

What loss did they suffer?

What is their actual financial loss?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
As far as I am aware, they didn't suffer any financial loss.

Thank you.

I'm afraid that you do not have a positive defence on these facts. On the face of it, you seem to have anticipated the risk that your dog may react because you mentioned his ears being sensitive. You might be able to argue that the conduct of the child was contributory negligence but there's quite a lot of caselaw that children can be expected to be less careful than adults.

However, unless they're going to argue psychological injuries or some other similar nonsense they have not suffered any claimable loss as there is no financial loss. In the UK we don't pay the medical care at the point of delivery anyway. So they cannot have suffered medical bills.

He cannot have suffered lost earnings because this is a child.

It is possible that he could get maybe £100- £200 for pain and suffering but no more.

If you check your house insurance you might well find that they cover you for this and then it will not be your problem.

Can I clarify anything for you?


Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thank you for your advise.
All the best.