Dog bites should be avoided at all costs because, according to the law, the responsible pet owner can be fined up to SGD $5,000 if a dog bites another person. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to make sure that your dog behaves properly to avoid inflicting any sort of harm to other pets and people.
Any dog, regardless of breed and size, is capable of doing harm. The possible injuries a dog bite can inflict are:
- Nerve Damage
- Punctured Wounds
- Permanent Scars
- Irreversible Disfigurement
- PTSD or Emotional Distress
- Infections, mild or severe
However, there may be times that it cannot be avoided due to different circumstances. There are consequences that the owner and, sometimes, the owned dog, must face if the dog bites someone. So, if you’re curious about the laws surrounding incidents which involve dog bites or any other sort of harm, we hope to address those questions in this article.
If My Dog Bites Somebody, Will I be Liable?
When you own a dog, it is important that they are properly trained to behave well anywhere and around other people. Responsible pet owners must abide by the law to keep other people and animals safe.
According to the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act 1906, pet owners will be charged with an offence and will be fined up to $5,000 worth if a dog bites a person. Aside from the fine, dog owners must pay $2,000 in compensation for the injuries their dog has caused. It is up to the court to determine the exact fine to be paid.
There are many instances that can happen when it comes to this kind of situation. However, since this law is strictly enforced, at the end of the day, the owner is liable if ever their dog bites or attempts to bite someone. It applies to owners who are negligent or who are not aware of their dog’s aggressive behaviour.
There are different scenarios that determine whether the pet owner is liable or not. Here are some examples wherein the pet owner is still liable under the law if the dog bites someone:
- When a dog runs out of your home, even if by accident, and ends up biting someone
- Not keeping your dog on a leash when you are walking, and they end up biting someone
- Not paying attention to your dog and their surroundings, that can result in possible dog bites or other injuries
- If your dog is ferocious, and you failed to muzzle it in public as required
- Other than dog bites, it also applies when you fail to prevent your dog from running into other people, vehicles, or bicycles on a public road. (Owners will be fined up to $1,000 for this offence)
On the other hand, there are situations wherein the pet owners may not be statutory liable. Some of those examples include:
- When a stranger breaks into your home and your dog bites them
- When a dog is abused and ends up biting another person to protect themselves
In addition, if you own a dog, especially if they are under the Second Schedule of the Animals and Birds (Dog Licensing and Control) Rules, and they are found to be ferocious whilst not in a muzzle in a public setting, you will be fined up to $5,000. In the event, the dog also ends up biting someone, the court can issue an order to put them down.
Statutory Liability When Your Dog Injures Someone
Aside from the offence that a dog owner may be liable for under the law above, they can also have liability under the common law. Dog owners may be charged with negligence due to their actions that may result in their dogs biting other people.
That is why dog owners should look after their pets at all times to avoid charges. Aside from negligence, the victim may also press a civil suit against you where the dog owner will pay compensation for the injuries that were inflicted.
General Duties and Responsibilities of Dog Owners
To avoid liability offence under the dog bite law in Singapore, dog owners must take note of the following:
- Pay attention to your pet at all times, and avoid abandoning them, especially in public
- You must have your dog trained
- Do not urge your dog to cause harm or threaten other people or other animals
- Keep your dog on a leash at all times when in public
- If your dog is ferocious, ensure that they are muzzled and on a leash in public
- Do not let your dog run into other people, vehicles, or bicycles
Be a responsible dog owner and look after your dog at all times. Under the law, dog bites are a liable offence that can be charged to the owner if they fail to take responsibility for their dogs. In addition, you may also be charged with negligence under common law. Make sure to follow the general responsibilities as a pet owner to avoid consequences and to ensure the safety of other people.