Vi­cious dog at­tack in Manor Park!

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - Shena Stubbs Con­trib­u­tor Shena Stubbs is an at­tor­ney-at-law. Send feed­back to: Email: shena.stubbs@ glean­erjm.com; Twit­ter:@shenas­tubbs

The Dogs (Li­a­bil­ity for In­juries) Act

IHAVE a young child. My fa­ther has a pit bull, Brittany, which has been in the fam­ily for years, and who, ac­cord­ing to my fa­ther, is harm­less as she only at­tacks other dogs, al­beit, some­times vi­ciously. On Thurs­day, as I am wont to do, I stopped by my par­ents’ house with my young child. How­ever, be­fore ven­tur­ing through the gate, I was care­ful to re­move the large um­brella I had in the rear of my car.

Yes, Brittany has never at­tacked me or my child over the years. Nev­er­the­less, I was tak­ing no chances. I dis­trust dogs, es­pe­cially pit bulls, and I was go­ing into that property harmed to de­fend my child if it came to that. If, for what­ever rea­son, Brittany chose that day, that time, to go all men­tal on my child and me, I was harmed with my big um­brella and men­tally ready, my­self, to take her life, if I had to, to pro­tect my child’s life, no apolo­gies to my dad.

Nev­er­the­less, it was an­other un­event­ful visit. Brittany did not even make an ap­pear­ance to see who was com­ing through the gate and did not ap­pear for my en­tire visit. Maybe she sensed the big um­brella.

PIT BULL’S AT­TACK IN MANOR PARK

I guess top of mind in my ‘ex­tremeish’ be­hav­iour on Thurs­day was a story I had re­cently heard of yet an­other vi­cious pit bull at­tack on a child in Ja­maica, this time on a fouryear-old boy in Manor Park, St An­drew, ear­lier this year.

Ac­cord­ing to the child’s mother, Aleiya Chin, on the ill­fated morn­ing, she and her two chil­dren, ages two and four at the time, had walked by the dogs in ques­tion ly­ing in front of a neigh­bour’s open gate, when, sec­onds later, the dogs at­tacked her and her chil­dren. Ac­cord­ing to Chin, the dogs lit­er­ally grabbed her son from her, by his school bag, and started to at­tack him re­peat­edly. For­tu­nately, through as­sis­tance from oth­ers, the young boy’s life was spared. How­ever, he suf­fered se­ri­ous in­juries, in­clud­ing spinal, as well as seem­ing dam­age to his vo­cal chords.

The sin­gle mother is seek­ing to get fur­ther med­i­cal as­sis­tance for the child in New York, but is ask­ing the pub­lic for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance. Per­sons will­ing to make do­na­tions in this tragic case may do so as fol­lows: Joshua Zhang at Bank of Nova Sco­tia, ac­count #90365, Liguanea branch, Kingston, Ja­maica; or via go­fundme at: https://www.go­fundme.com/2r 6h5r8.

Chin may also be con­tacted by email at: miss­chin56@gmail.com (cour­tesy of the Ja­maica Ob­server, Oc­to­ber 9, 2016). I also im­plore at­tor­neys-at-law to reach out to as­sist Ms Chin with seek­ing what­ever reme­dies may be avail­able to her through the courts, even if they have to do the mat­ter on a pro bono or a con­tin­gency ba­sis.

THE LAW

I have not heard what the own­ers of the dogs in ques­tion have to say in their own de­fence, and as a re­sult, I will not of­fer a view on their li­a­bil­ity for the young lad’s in­juries. Nev­er­the­less, it does not seem to be dis­puted that the child was at­tacked by dogs and se­ri­ously in­jured. In the event, I will sum­marise for read­ers what the laws of Ja­maica, in par­tic­u­lar, the Dogs (Li­a­bil­ity for In­juries) Act (the Act) stip­u­lates in this re­gard.

CIVIL LI­A­BIL­ITY OF OWN­ERS OF DOGS FOR IN­JURIES DONE BY THEM.

Sec­tion 2 of the Act pro­vides that the owner of ev­ery dog shall be li­able for in­jury done to any per­son, or any cat­tle or sheep, by his dogs, and it shall not be nec­es­sary for the party seek­ing such dam­ages to show a pre­vi­ous mis­chievous propen­sity in such dog, or the owner’s knowl­edge of such pre­vi­ous propen­sity, or that the in­jury was at­trib­ut­able to ne­glect on the part of such owner. This is what is called a strict li­a­bil­ity of­fence, the owner is li­able for in­jury in­flicted even if he ar­gues that he did not know that his dog(s) had the propen­sity to be ag­gres­sive or vi­o­lent or that the at­tack was not caused by any neg­li­gence on his part.

OWNER OF DOG DE­FINED

Ac­cord­ing to Sec­tion 3 of the Act, the oc­cu­pier of any house or premises where any dog was kept, or per­mit­ted to live or re­main at the time of such in­jury, shall be deemed to be the owner of such dog, and shall be li­able as such. How­ever, an oc­cu­pier of premises, for in­stance, a ten­ant, may es­cape li­a­bil­ity if he can prove that he was not, at the time of the at­tack, the owner of the dog which per­pet­u­ated the at­tack and that such dog was kept or per­mit­ted to live or re­main in the said house or premises with­out his sanc­tion or knowl­edge.

DE­FENCES

Not­with­stand­ing there be­ing strict li­a­bil­ity for dog at­tacks in Ja­maica, there are also de­fences which may be avail­able to an owner, for in­stance:

that the per­son at­tacked was tres­pass­ing on the owner’s premises at the rel­e­vant time; or,

that the per­son at­tacked con­trib­uted to the at­tack, for ex­am­ple, by teas­ing the dog; or

that the at­tack re­sulted from the “act of a stranger”, for ex­am­ple, where a stranger re­leased the dog from its chains.

CON­CLU­SION

Oc­cu­piers of premises on which dogs of any breed live should be very care­ful to en­sure that their dogs are kept on the premises, out of harm’s way, to en­sure the pro­tec­tion of their neigh­bours or vis­i­tors and re­duce the risk of li­a­bil­ity to them­selves.

My pro­found sym­pa­thies to young Joshua and his fam­ily. Read­ers, do sup­port his re­turn to full health.

IIII

CON­TRIB­UTED

A Pit Bull ter­rier.

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