Local August 6, 2023 | 11:33 am

If an animal attacks a person, who should be held responsible?

Santo Domingo.- About two weeks ago, the video of a pit bulldog attacking a man suffering from prostate cancer went viral on social networks.

Owning a pet entails a series of legal aspects that must be addressed in the event of an attack on a person.

Article 1385 of the Dominican Civil Code states: “The owner of an animal, or the one who uses it for the time of its use, is responsible for the damage caused by the animal, whether it was in his custody, or if it has strayed or escaped”.

In a legal consultation with attorney Carlos Salcedo, made by this newspaper, he indicated that a person is responsible for the facts related to pets, domestic animals, or any other species that cause damage to others.

That is to say, if an animal causes damages during the attack, legally, the pet owner must be responsible for paying for repairing them.

Taking responsibility for an animal’s actions also includes payments. Salcedo explains that if “there is no agreement on the value of the reparation”, the affected person can go to court and request that the damages be quantified so that they can be evaluated for the appropriate reparation. Evidence of physical and material damages are taken into account, as well as moral damages resulting from the injuries received.

Likewise, when a person is attacked, he/she can request that the expenses derived from the care of the effects that “are directly related” to the fact of the animal that caused the damage be covered. These expenses must be covered by the owner of the pet, which, according to the indications of the lawyer and Article 1385, is part of the reparation of the damage which is awarded to the person in charge of the animal.

Now then, one of the actions taken towards the animal when it assaults the person is to submit it to an evaluation examination to put it on some type of medicine that may be required. In addition to this, Carlos Salcedo explains that “in case it is an isolated event,” the owner should be required to comply with his obligation to control the animal.

Legal actions

A person who has been attacked or injured by a dog, or other animal has the possibility of taking legal action against the pet owners through civil liability lawsuits for damages and seeking reparations.

Citing Article 1385 of the Civil Code, Salcedo assured that the victim of the animal “can demand from the owner the reparation of the damage caused by the fact of the animal, which is commensurate with the physical, material and moral damages received.”

On the other hand, the lawyer recommends people who have been attacked by a pet and want to take legal action “keep documented with evidence” the fact and the consequences derived from it, so that, if necessary, they can be used in the case to demand the corresponding reparation.

He added that “it can be videos of how the facts occurred, the expenses to cover the consequence of the facts, any conversation with the owner of the animal and, if possible, testimonies of the conditions of the animal and the usual ways in which it is found and how it relates to the environment in which the facts occurred.”

When you have a pet, it is very common for them to become aggressive, however, not on all occasions the situation is faced correctly. Therefore, one of the most frequent questions is: what to do when you have an aggressive animal, to avoid being responsible for the acts it may commit?

Some recommendations for these cases, especially if they are dogs, are to change the environment in which they are or try to educate them and treat them in a way in which their behavior can be manageable.

The jurist pointed out that to deal with aggressive animals, it is not a good idea to breed a larger number of animals in the home than those that can be kept and controlled, as established by Article 17 of the Animal Protection and Responsible Ownership Law, No. 248-12; since a smaller number could be more manageable in terms of behavior.

In addition, he added that “pet owners are obliged, among others, to maintain proper care of the animal by creating conditions so that the animal does not escape, facilitate moments of recreation and fun for the pet.”

It is important to point out that, if there is negligence on the part of a pet owner during their care, either in terms of the control obligations they must have over them, they may lose the pet.

Carlos Salcedo states that “it is the obligation of the State to safeguard the rights of animals and their equality before life and to protect them against the neglect to which they may be subjected, as provided by Article 4 Animal Protection and Responsible Keeping Law, No. 248-12”.

Article 11 of the Animal Protection and Responsible Possession Law, number 248-12 holds that it is possible that, by its obligation, the State will pick up the animal and send it to the shelters that must be arranged for the fulfillment of this obligation, if its owners do not comply with the corresponding obligations.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments