A boy has been awarded €7,500 compensation for an injury caused by a dog bite after a hearing at the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin.
Rhys Loy from Clongriffin in Dublin was twelve years of age when he was cycling home from school in November 2011. As he mounted a pavement in Raheny, he was attacked and bitten by a five-year-old Collie named Charlie, who was out for a walk on a lead with his temporary carer – Anecy Sholling.
Rhys was taken suffering from shock to the Children´s University Hospital in Temple Street, where he received treatment for a superficial laceration on his left calf. After being discharged from hospital with his injury cleaned and sutured, Rhys returned on several more occasions to have the dressing changed and his injury examined to ensure it was healing properly.
On her son´s behalf, Rhys´ mother – Sinead Byrne – claimed compensation for an injury caused by a dog bite against the registered owners of the dog – the PAWS animal rescue centre in Mullinahone, County Tipperary, which was run by Deidre and Gina Hetherington. Ms Byrne also applied to the Gardai to have the dog put down.
Deidre and Gina Hetherington denied their responsibility for Rhys´ dog bite injuries, and said that the Collie had been adopted by Ms Sholling several months before the attack on Rhys. The Hetheringtons claimed that they did not know the whereabouts of the Collie when Garda officers attempted to collect the dog to have him put down.
With there being a dispute over liability, the Injuries Board issued an authorisation for the case to be heard in court. The claim for compensation for an injury caused by a dog bite subsequently went to the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, where it was heard by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke.
At the hearing, Judge Groarke was informed by a Garda officer that she had seen paperwork confirming PAWS as the registered owners of the Collie at the time of the attack. The officer testified that the dog was only being fostered by Ms Sholling when it attacked Rhys and that it had been returned to the animal rescue centre shortly afterwards.
As the Collie had been the property of the animal rescue centre at the time of the attack, Judge Groarke said that Deidre and Gina Hetherington were the legal owners and subsequently liable for the dog´s actions. He ordered them to pay Rhys €7,500 compensation for an injury caused by a dog bite and commented he did not believe it was a coincidence that the Collie had escaped his punishment.