Unknown immunization status affects dog bite claims
Dog bite claims are currently being affected by dogs not having the correct medical immunization, which is legally needed. The owner of a dog is responsible for getting their dog immunized against certain dangerous diseases. If the owner fails to do this, then they leave themselves open to potential dog bite claims and compensation pay outs. This is because getting bitten by a dog which has not been immunized is a very dangerous thing a leaves people open to all sorts of diseases.
The medical profession has recently reported growing numbers in dog bite cases caused by dogs with an unknown immunization status. Reports include both stray and domesticated dogs. Dog owners are being warned that if they do not ensure that their pet has up to date immunization vaccinations, then they not only run the risk of harming any dog bite victim with a variety of diseases and infections, but also leave their door wide open to a variety of dog bite claims that can be made against them.
Even if a dog has been immunized, a dog bite attack can be a traumatic experience for any victim. However, the worry of disease developing from an unimmunized dog is something that should not occur in the UK. A forty-six year old father of three, Robert Greenhall, was walking from his parked car to his front door in Brighton in March 2009. As he made his way to the door, his next door neighbour’s Dalmatian ‘came out of nowhere’ and bit him on the hand as the victim attempted to shield himself. The owner immediately apologised and took Mr Greenhall to Brighton General Hospital. The bite was treated and appeared not to be too deep. Hospital staff advised Mr Greenhall to demand the most recent immunization documentation from the owner of the dog as soon as possible. Mr Greenhall took the hospital’s advice and resolved to ask his neighbour for the documentation on the following day. That evening he contemplated dog bite claims and whether he wanted to make one, but decided against it, as the bite was not really that deep and wouldn’t affect his work as a teacher in any foreseeable way. On the next day Mr Greenhall knocked on his neighbour’s door in order to request the appropriate documentation. However, Mr Greenhall found the neighbour to be ‘very defensive’ as he began to accuse Mr Greenhall of ‘calling him an unfit owner’. Even after Mr Greenhall persisted, the owner continued to be reluctant about handing over any documentation – a fact that made Mr Greenhall think that the owner had not in fact had his dog immunized.
In response to this, Mr Greenhall did two things. Firstly, he booked an emergency appointment with his GP and explained the situation. The GP did a full check-up and advised Mr Greenhall on any possible symptoms he might experience that would require him to go immediately to the nearest hospital. The second thing Mr Greenhall did was reconsider the possibility of dog bite claims and sought legal advice. What he discovered was that the neighbour’s unhelpfulness and lack of cooperation, coupled with the circumstances of the dog bite itself, would generally be grounds enough for most successful dog bite claims. However, if the owner genuinely had not made sure that the pet was vaccinated, then this would make them especially liable. Mr Greenhall took legal action and won compensation.
It is, in fact, illegal for an owner not to get a dog vaccinated against rabies in the EU. This legal requirement should be taken seriously by all dog owners as the outcome of an individual being bitten by a rabid dog can be disastrous. It should be remembered that rabies is particularly uncommon in the UK, due to these strict laws. When they are violated, however, the owner is open to serious legal charges and dog bite claims.
In September 2010, a female biochemistry student from Edinburgh University was out walking her own dog in the local area. She began to feel nervous as what she described as a ‘diseased stray’ began to follow her and her own dog. This apparently continued for about two-hundred metres, until the student’s pet dog began to ‘growl defensively’ at the stray. The situation quickly turned into a dangerous one, as the stray dog attacked the student’s dog before passers by running to the young woman’s aid scared the stray away. Reports later surfaced that witnesses had recognised the dog as belonging to a reclusive woman who lived in a nearby flat. Police investigated the incident and by using microchip technology confirmed that the dangerous dog did indeed belong to this woman. The dog had never been vaccinated, though was known to have previously been abroad. Apparently, the owner had used fake immunization proof documentation in order to go on holiday with the dog. The bite resulted in both the student’s pet dog being destroyed due to fears of rabies, as well as the offending animal. No human beings were reported to have been bitten by the dog and the case can be described as an isolated incident. The student did look into dog bite claims and came out with considerable compensation for her losses. The owner is now facing legal charges and awaiting trial.