Teen awarded damages against rescue charity after dog bite

Judge did not believe collie Charlie escaped ‘death sentence’ by ‘coincidence’

Sinead Byrne, mother of Rhys Loy of Marsfield Avenue, Clongriffin, Dublin, pictured leaving the Four Courts. Photograph: Courts Collins

Sinead Byrne, mother of Rhys Loy of Marsfield Avenue, Clongriffin, Dublin, pictured leaving the Four Courts. Photograph: Courts Collins

 

A 17-year-old student, who was attacked and bitten by Charlie, a collie dog, five years ago, has been awarded damages against an animal rescue charity in the Circuit Civil Court.

Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, said a warrant to put down the dog had been obtained by gardaí, but Charlie had mysteriously escaped the death sentence.

Barrister Murray Johnson told the court that in November 2009, Rhys Loy had been cycling home at Raheny, Dublin, when he was attacked by the black and white dog, Charlie.

Rhys said he had just mounted the footpath when the dog, which was being walked on a rope by a woman, ran up and stuck his teeth into his left calf.

The court heard that the schoolboy, who was 12-years-old at the time, had felt immediate pain and had been in shock. He suffered a superficial laceration to his calf.

He was taken to Children’s University Hospital, Temple Street, Dublin, where his wound was cleaned and sutured under general anaesthesia.

Mr Johnson said that Rhys, of Marsfield Avenue, Clongriffin, Dublin, needed to return to the hospital several times to have his dressings changed.

Through his mother, Sinead Byrne, he sued the dog owner, Deirdre and Gina Hetherington, of animal rescue centre Paws, Mullinahone, Co Tipperary, for negligence.

Gina Hetherington told the court that the charity denied liability and was not the owner of the dog, Charlie, as it had been adopted by a woman, Anecy Sholling, several months before Rhys’ incident.

Garda Orna Gavin told the court she had obtained a warrant to put the dog down, but Charlie had allegedly escaped as it was taken back to Paws by Gina Hetherington’s late husband.

Judge Groarke said he believed Garda Gavin’s clear evidence of having seen a document at the time stating that Charlie was only being fostered by Ms Sholling.

The judge, awarding Rhys €7,500 damages against Deirdre and Gina Hetherington, said he did not believe that the dog, which had been sentenced to capital punishment, had escaped by “coincidence.”

The court was not presented with any evidence that Charlie still lives somewhere.