Case brought to court
An “appalling” dog attack which caused the death of a child in Waterford confirms courts are correct to take all incidents involving such animals very seriously, Judge Catherine Staines said at a recent sitting of Tullamore District Court.
Judge Staines told Tullamore District Court that though she was an animal lover herself and she accepted that certain dogs had the potential to cause injury to people.
Her comments came as she fined a woman €200 for failing to control a dog at Cloneganna, Dunkerrin on November 21, 2019.
Mary Fogarty, 59, Cloneganna, had her black labrador on a lead when she was out walking but he attacked a man on a bicycle, leaving the victim with nine scars on his leg.
Ms Fogarty had previously pleaded guilty to the offence but Judge Staines became concerned when she learned that when the dog, who had “savagely” bitten the man, was taken to a vet in Roscrea to be put down, he was instead rehoused by an animal rescue organisation.
At a number of court sittings she sought information on the whereabouts of the animal and what steps were being taken to ensure he did not attack anyone again.
Last week Judge Staines recalled that the court had initially been told the new location of the animal could not be revealed because of GDPR.
Last week an email to the court from the lady currently in charge of the dog was handed in by Sergeant James O'Sullivan.
The new owner said the dog had come to her from Haven Rescue in August last year and they were recently made aware that he had bitten a man before that.
The owner confirmed they had a secure garden for the dog, he was walked on a lead and supervised at all times, and he had displayed no signs of aggression while in their care.
The owner said they were mindful of his past and would be vigilant.
Judge Staines said the death of the young child recently confirmed why the court took the matters seriously and in cirumstances where a dog had bitten a person, the court had to be satisfied that people were safe.
She said Ms Fogarty had done the proper thing by bringing the dog to the vet to be euthanised and she had also paid substantial compensation to the victim.
She said she was satisfied from the information she had received from the new owner that they would make sure the same did not happen again and she sincerely hoped nothing happens in their own home.
Judge Staines said the fine was small because of the amount of compensation which had been paid to the victim.
A previous sitting had heard the victim no longer felt able to go out cycling because he found it too difficult to pass a house with a loose dog. MORE BELOW LINK.
In a victim impact report, the man said he had worked as a paramedic for 25 years and was using cycling to help his recovery from a serious spinal injury.
On November 21, 2019, through no fault of his own, he was bitten by a dangerous and uncontrolled dog which he described as “very big, strong and angry”.
The injuries were horrendous and painful and required nine weeks of careful medical treatment before they eventually healed.
He was left with nine unsightly scars from each puncture wound that the dog's teeth made and that caused him embarrassment if he chose to wear shorts in hot weather.
He said that before being bitten, the dog had charged out of the open gate of Ms Fogarty's house on two occasions with the clear intention of doing him harm.
He managed to outrun the dog but if the animal had managed to knock him off the bike he had no doubt he'd have been mauled. MORE BELOW LINK
He said he asked that the dog be euthanised before he seriously injured anyone else but the owner declined that. Instead, she gave an undertaking to a guard that she would not let the dog on a public road again but she did not keep to that.
The man said he had not cycled for a full year because of being bitten and that saddened him greatly.
It seemed to him that Mary Fogarty had no understanding of what it meant to be a responsible dog owner and while his leg had been seriously injured, a child could be seriously injured too.
When the case came before Tullamore District Court on April 14 last, Judge Staines had been told the dog was on a lead when the incident occurred.
Ms Fogarty had been out walking and the victim rang the bell on his bike, an act which it was claimed had frightened the dog and made it lunge forward and bite.
In an initial victim impact statement, the victim said he had stopped on the bike and rung his bell to get the owner's attention.
When he was passing the dog lunged across the road and sunk his teeth into his leg.
The court heard the dog was rehomed after being assessed by qualified canine behaviourists and the rescue service was reluctant to provide information on the new owner as they believed it would be a breach of GDPR and would have an adverse affect on the service by betraying the trust of people who would take in dogs.
Ms Fogarty was a teacher who had the dog as a pet for many years.
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