best friend. Your greatest companion, but also a walkable risk.
Owning a dog comes with a load of responsibilities, and it’s not all fun and
games. As the number of dog attack cases increase in South
Africa, it is vital for pet owners to understand the responsibilities of owning
Imagine your dog attacking a
jogger, or child, while you are not even home. Will you still be liable
for the dogs actions? Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
damages caused by such an attack can range from minor wounds to hospital
admissions, and even disfigurement.
As the owner of the dog, you may
be held liable for:
damages (which include medical expenses and damage to property)
damages (which include pain and
suffering, loss of amenities of life, disability and disfigurement).
legal remedy a victim can use against the owner of a dog to claim for damages
(expressed by money) is called the ACTIO DE PAUPERIE.
the victim to succeed with a claim in Court must proof that:
person against whom the action is instituted must have been the OWNER of the
dog when the
damage was inflicted;
animal must be a domesticated animal (for instance a dog that is tame);
animal must have acted contrary to the nature of domesticated animals;
conduct of the dog must have caused the damage.
So, what to do, if your dog was
the attacker in such an instance? The only “excuses” that will be
acceptable to a court will be the following:
animal was provoked by the victim, a third party or another animal; (Keep the
victim entered the premises unlawfully and opened himself to a risk;
victim knew about the risk of sustaining injury from the animal and voluntarily
accepted the risk;
(ignored the signage regarding the dog on duty)
Dogs can be unpredictable and
it is therefore important for dog owners to keep their dogs locked and safe on
their premises at all times.
is also advisable that if you have dogs that may become aggressive to make
sure that you have insurance for these matters that can pay out on your
behalf. Ensure that your property is safe, locked and that the necessary
warning signs is in place.
the meantime, enjoy your dog.