Pit Bull that attacked Portlaoise youth spared destruction by court after appeal

Dog that bit 16-year-old boy was 'an important member of the family'

Pit Bull that attacked Portlaoise youth spared destruction by court after appeal

A Pit Bull that bit and injured a youth in Portlaoise has been saved from being put down after its owner appealed a district court order at the recent sitting of Portlaoise Circuit Court.

Egidija Semionovas, Kilminchy, Portlaoise, was the owner of the dog that was not restrained nor wearing a muzzle, when it bit a 16-year-old boy at Kilminchy on July 19, 2016.

At the recent appeal, State solicitor Mr Donal Dunne said that Portlaoise District Court Judge Catherine Staines had ordered the destruction of the dog when the matter came before her in February last.

He gave evidence that on July 19, 2016, a young person was walking through Kilminchy in Portlaoise when the dog, a Pit Bull which was not on a leash, bit him on the leg.

After it bit the youth, the dog ran back to its owner, Egidija Semionovas, who put the lead on the dog, before she took the young person back to his house.

The youth went to hospital, where he received sutures for bite marks to the back of his leg.

When questioned by gardaí, the appellant said the dog had been injured and kept inside all week. As the dog was feeling better that day she took it for a walk.

She said that there would normally be very few people on the path in the area, but she saw some boys and had to step off the path for fear one of them might have stepped on the dog’s sore nail.

Defence for the appellant said that she had no previous convictions and did not have legal representation when the case was in the district court.

When the incident happened, she did her best to assist the injured party and cooperated with the gardaí.

Judge Keenan Johnson said that, given the breed’s propensity for aggression, she should have kept it muzzled and on a lead.

Defence replied that the appellant didn’t have a licence for the dog at the time, but the next day her partner got a licence.

Defence also said that any application to have the dog destroyed would have to be made by an external party, but neither the gardaí nor the injured party has applied.

Mr Dunne argued with this, saying that where a dog has caused injury to someone the court can deal with the matter.

He said that the injured party had seemed “somewhat indifferent” to the matter and had made no further complaint.

Judge Johnson said that the district court judge has power to make the order.

He said that the district court had heard the circumstances, in which a controlled breed with no lead or muzzle had bitten a child, and then made the order.

He said there was a great risk that the dog could do the same thing again.

Defence said that the dog had been with the family, which contained two children, from birth and this was a one-off incident.

Defence said the dog was a very important member of the family.

It had been ill for two or three days and the appellant decided that when it was better she would take it out for a walk, said defence.

The appellant then gave a sworn undertaking to the court to keep the dog on a muzzle and leash at all times.

In ruling, Judge Johnson said it seemed to have been an aberration, with the appellant generally keeping the dog under control.

He said he would vacate the destruction order in favour of restorative justice, and directed the appellant to donate €500 to the Laois Family Resource Centre.

The matter was adjourned to November 29.