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Arathi S Nath: Pet owner’s liability in dog bite cases

Do you have a disobedient pet dog? Have you ever dreamt of being in jail for what your dog did? Yes, you heard it right! Your dog’s mischief can land you in great trouble if you are negligent and careless.

 If you have a sweet, adorable canine, then take good care of your dog and see that it does not harm any of your neighbors because if your dog bites any person, then there are high possibilities of putting you in a court trial and even imprisonment.

If you are an owner who doesn’t care about where your dog goes and what your dog is upto, then start becoming more cautious and concerned because there are laws that can put you behind the bars .

Until the 18th century, dogs have not held a special place in the hearts of their human companions. Their role was that of a mere utilitarian until the term “man’s best friend” came into the lexicon. Their importance at home has increased from pets to sporting companions to service dogs, they add a measurable degree of quality to the worlds of the humans they share their lives with.

According to Vanderbilt University, dogs can decrease levels of human loneliness and give humans a sense of purpose as they care for their animal companions. This can be especially beneficial for people who live alone, don’t socialize much, are empty-nesters or recently experienced a major change of life, such as the loss of a close human companion to death or divorce[1].

As the number of people keeping dogs as household companions are increasing day by day, the nuisance and disturbance caused by these dogs to neighbors also increase. There is a Malayalam film named Action Hero Biju in which a true incident of the neighbour’s pet dogs attack on  a small school-going girl, which was caused due to the negligence of the owner, is shown in quite heart- touching manner. The film showcases a situation of the station in-charge officer, who charges the neighbor under Section 324 of IPC, after becoming emotional by seeing the grave wounds on the child.

Apart from the fact that guidelines for pet owners and their caregivers were issued by the Animal Welfare Board of India in its official website (click here), the cases of grievous injuries and deaths caused due to a naughty dog and negligent owner are numerous and the courts have started to take this issue into serious consideration.

There are several cases where huge amounts of compensation has been ordered by courts for the negligent act of the pet owners.

A 57-year-old woman was sentenced to imprisonment under section 289 of IPC, after her dog bit another resident’s leg outside the elevator of their building. She was also ordered to pay a compensation of Rs 10,000. The fact that the dog was vaccinated or the dog’s size is irrelevant to the incident[2].

In the case of Ajay Singh Rawat v. Union of India and Ors.,  the court had directed that in the case of dog biting, the victim shall be paid compensation of Rs. Two lacs, Rs one lac by the municipality and Rs one lac by the State Government, within a week from the date of dog biting.

In the case of Jawaharlal Sharma v. State of Jharkhand and Ors., the court directed the authorities to ensure medical aid to the victim and to act promptly to control the dog biting by enforcing the provision of section 349 of Bihar Municipal Act, 1922[3]

In another case from Chandigarh in 2019, a resident was booked after his pet dog bit a 10-year-old boy. The owner of a pet was charged as per section 289 of the IPC with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to`1,000 or both.[4]

There is also another case from Delhi in 2013, in which a man was landed in legal trouble after his pet dog allegedly bit a woman[5].

The case of Sunita Talwar is a different one.

Sunita Talwar, whose pet dog bit her neighbour’s eight-year-old child, fought a court battle for three years to clear her name in a criminal case.In the end, Talwar could walk free only after pleading guilty to the charge that her failure to control the dog caused injuries to the child. She offered an “unconditional apology” to the father of the child and paid Rs 1,000 as a penalty. But that still made her a “convict”, because she was held guilty after her admission[6]

So it is high time that we dog lovers and pet owners wake up to the mischiefs caused by our dogs since the consequences and harm caused to the victims can be quite dangerous and grave. The only controllable factor in front of us regarding the increasing cases of dog bites is that the owners of the pet rise up to become more cautious and careful. When you own a canine, you become obliged to the society and your neighborhood to make sure that the dog is well trained and well behaved in public places.

Even Though the Constitution of our country gives us the freedom to choose to live with a companion animal under Article 51(g), there are certain duties prescribed by the animal welfare board for the pet owners[7]:

  • Give constant attention to pets.
  • Pets should not be abandoned
  • Check-mate pets
  • Try to keep dogs quie
  • Healthy maintenance of pets
  • Clean pet’s poop and leash pets.
  • Use alternative lifts or elevators where possible

The love for pets among citizens of India has increased within recent times,and the practice of owning them has become a rapidly growing trend. Hence, the dog owners ought to be more careful and concerned about their pet.

Do you want to raise a perfectly trained pet. If yes, We recommend you this book called Click here

Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution: The Complete Guide to Raising the Perfect Pet with Love

One other Book a dog lover must read


[1] Lisa McQuerrey “The Importance of Dogs in Our Lives” DAILY PUPPY available at https://dogcare.dailypuppy.com/importance-dogs-lives-6622.html

[2] Rebecca Samervel  South Bombay pet owner penalised by court as dog bites neighbor

TNN  Dec 1, 2019 available at https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/south-bombay-pet-owner-penalised-by-court-as-dog-bites-neighbour/articleshow/72314277.cms

[3]  Jawaharlal Sharma v. State of Jharkand and Ors  available at https://www.casemine.com/judgement/in/56092d5be4b01497111fbd55

[4] Pet dog bites 10-yr-old boy, owner booked  HINDUSTAN TIMES available at https://www.hindustantimes.com/chandigarh/pet-dog-bites-10-yr-old-boy-owner-booked/story-qk5ORhNPENhrB7ZdY31dqM.html

[5] Man to face trial after pet dog bites woman THE TIMES OF INDIA April 26,2013  available at

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Man-to-face-trial-after-pet-dog-bites-woman/articleshow/19733819.cms

[6] Utkarsh Anand Pet dog bites neighbour, owner convicted after guilty plea THE INDIAN EXPRESS March,03,2011 available at http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/pet-dog-bites-neighbour-owner-convicted-after-guilty-plea/756973/

[7]Laws For Pets In India And Rights Of Pet Owners- Know The Guidelines by animallWelfare Board  “LAWNN May 23, 20199available at https://www.lawnn.com/laws-for-pets-in-india/

Pet owner’s liability in dog bite cases Pet owner’s liability in dog bite cases

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[…] Union of India and Ors., the court had directed that in the case of dog biting, the victim shall be paid compensation of Rs. Two lacs, Rs one lac by the municipality and Rs one lac by the State Government, within a week from the date of dog biting. via […]

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