Dog ownership is a source of joy to many, but it is not free from legal responsibilities. Owners bear responsibility for their pets' behaviour and can be sued for damages if they cause injury, even when such incidents are the result of a simple lack of thought on their part. In one case of this kind, the owner of an Alsatian that pulled a friend off her feet during a walk in the park was ordered to pay a six-figure sum in compensation.
The friends were strolling with their dogs on a chilly morning when they stopped at a café. As she went to buy their drinks, the Alsatian owner thrust her dog's lead into the other woman's hand. The large and high-spirited dog pulled her backwards and she fell to the ground, suffering fractures to her hip and arm.
The injured woman brought a personal injury claim against the owner of the Alsatian. In upholding her claim, a judge noted that she already had charge of her own Cockapoodle when her friend handed over control of the larger dog – without warning and without her consent. The judge found that that was a negligent act and ordered the Alsatian owner to pay £115,000 in compensation, as well as the action's substantial legal costs.