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Courts siding against dog owners in disputes

By Wang Yizhou (Global Times)

09:20, September 18, 2012

Local courts have sided against dog owners at least partially in 95 percent of dog-related injury cases that have gone to trial, according to a recent report by Huangpu District People's Court.

The report shows that dog owners will almost certainly to be held liable in court if they are sued because of their pets. "Even if a dog owner completely follows all of the laws and regulations, he or she still bears responsibility in an incident if he or she cannot prove that the other party provoked the dog," said Xu Tingzi, a Huangpu district court judge.

The number of pet-related disputes in local courts jumped 50 percent year-on-year over the period from January to May this year, the Shanghai Evening Post reported Sunday.

The Huangpu district court report found 242 cases of pet-related disputes from 2008 to May 2012. Most of the disputes involved dogs. More than 80 percent of those cases involved dog owners who were negligent in their care, such as failing to get their animals licensed or vaccinated, or not putting their dogs on leashes when taking them out for a walk.

In one such case, a dog owner had to pay 126,000 yuan ($19,877) to an injured bicyclist who fell off his bike trying to avoid hitting her unleashed dog. The plaintiff, surnamed Han, was riding on Huangxing Road in March 2011 when an unleashed poodle ran in front of him. Han injured his shoulder and broke four ribs in the fall.

The court found the dog's owner at fault for taking the poodle outside without a leash and ordered her to pay 100 percent of the demanded compensation.

The court report suggested that the increase in dog ownership citywide contributed to the rise in pet-related disputes.

As of May 2012, there were 230,000 licensed dogs in the city, up 64 percent over the previous two years, though there still may be another 500,000 unlicensed dogs in the city, according to Jiefang Daily.

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