Girl ‘savaged’ by sheepdog on friend’s farm settles case for €175,000

Court hears teenager happy to wear face mask during pandemic as it covers up scars

A girl left with permanant facial scars after being ‘savaged’ by a sheepdog has secured €175,000 under a settlement of her High Court action against the dog’s owner. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

A girl left with permanant facial scars after being ‘savaged’ by a sheepdog has secured €175,000 under a settlement of her High Court action against the dog’s owner. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

 

A girl left with permanent facial scars after being “savaged” by a sheepdog has secured €175,000 under a settlement of her High Court action against the dog’s owner.

The girl, who cannot be identified by court order, was seven years old when the dog attacked her on a friend’s farm on October 4th, 2014.

Oonah McCrann SC, for the girl, said the now 14-year-old was “savaged by a sheepdog” and suffered significant scarring. The girl is happy to wear a face mask during the pandemic as it covers up her scars, counsel said.

The girl was visiting the farm when the “atrocious traumatic experience” occurred, counsel said.

Through her father, the girl sued the farmer who owned the dog over the incident. None of the parties can be identified as that could identify the girl.

It was claimed that the sheepdog was allowed to roam freely around the farmyard and that, when the child was a lawful visitor on the property, the dog, without warning, jumped on her and violently bit her about the face and neck.

It was also claimed that the dog, when he had her face between his jaws, violently shook her and that flesh from her nose, forehead, upper and lower lips, as well as her neck and gums, were torn away.

Puncture wounds

The child had seven areas of injury to her face, including flesh missing from her lips, puncture wounds on her neck, between her eyebrows and under her chin. Her gums were torn away from her lower teeth. She was rushed to a local hospital and later transferred to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.

She had surgery for more than three hours, involving plastic surgeons for her facial injuries and other surgeons dealing with reattachment of her gums to her teeth. She now has permanent scars around her nose, lips and neck.

Following the attack, she suffered recurring nightmares and remains very traumatised, it was claimed. She becomes extremely frightened and wary when in the presence of strange dogs.

It was claimed the dog was permitted to wander freely in the environs of the property and there was failure to anticipate the emergency which occurred and to take any or any adequate precaution to prevent the dog becoming and remaining a danger to people particularly the child.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told that liability was not an issue in the case.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Cross said it was a good one. The girl had an awful experience and he hoped she will now be able to put it behind her, he said.