New Delhi: Owners of “aggressive dogs” need to take reasonable care when they take their dogs to public places, a magistrate’s court in Mumbai said as it sentenced a pet owner to three months’ imprisonment over his Rottweiler biting his 72-year-old relative 13 years ago.
The order passed on 3 February by metropolitan magistrate Nadeem Patel convicted Santacruz businessman Cyrus Percy Hormusji, imposing a total fine of Rs 1,500 in addition to the jail term.
The court pointed out that Rottweilers are “known for their aggressiveness”, and are “famous for (being) powerful and having (a) forceful bite”. It then observed, “When such type of aggressive dog was taken to the public place it is the duty of the owner of the dog to take reasonable care for the safety of others. (sic)”
It was alleged that Hormusji’s dog bit one Kersi Irani thrice — on his calf and his arm — on 30 May 2010, while the two were standing near Hormusji’s car on Nepeansea Road and arguing over a property dispute.
According to the order, Hormusji had visited Irani’s building that day to talk to him about the property dispute pending between them in court. He was accompanied by his wife and two dogs, a brown Labrador and a black Rottweiler. The dogs were in the car when Hormusji opened the door as the argument grew heated. This was when the Rottweiler bit Irani, in the presence of the latter’s son.
The prosecution alleged that Hormusji had opened the car door despite the fact that the dogs were “barking ferociously”, and that Irani had repeatedly asked Hormusji not to open it.
Awarding the sentence, the court asserted that leniency is unwarranted in the case because it is a matter of public safety.
“The age of the informant is 72 years, at such old age the strong and aggressive dog attacked him and took three bites. When the person like accused who is grown up man was going in the public place with such aggressive dog, if reasonable care not taken then certainly it is harmful for the public, (sic)” it observed.
The court convicted Hormusji under Sections 289 (negligent conduct with respect to animals) and 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code.
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‘Knew about dog’s aggression’
During the hearing, Hormusji tried to disown the dog, claiming it didn’t belong to him. However, the prosecution examined a veterinary doctor who told the court that Hormusji often brought the dog to his clinic for examination.
The court then ruled that Hormusji, while opening the car door, did not take reasonable care despite “having knowledge of the aggression of the dog”, due to which the dog bit Irani.
“It is specifically deposed by Kersi Irani (PW1) that the dog was trying to come out of car. It means that at the time of opening the door of the car the accused knew that the dog was angry. In spite of that, without taking reasonable care, he has opened the door of the car, due to which the said dog bit the informant,” it observed.
(Edited by Anumeha Saxena)
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