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Pets and Animals


Pets and animals


Whilst stories of dogs biting postmen and women may seem like a cliche there are almost 2,500 dog attacks on postal workers every year – almost seven a day. And that’s just one profession. Latest NHS Digital figures show that more than 23,000 hospital admissions in the past three years were related to people being bitten or struck by dogs. 

Whilst data on dog attacks are routinely and regularly assessed, one much less quantifiable area is the consequences to owners if their pet caused damage to a vehicle and/or passengers by say running out into the road.  All animal owners owe a duty of care to prevent them causing harm to others and claims can be, and often are, brought in negligence or under the Animals Act. 

A complex piece of legislation, the Animals Act provides that, even if the damage is caused by an animal from a non-dangerous species, such as dogs, then the keeper can be found strictly liable for the damage under certain circumstances. The leading case on the Animals Act is Mirvahedy v Henley (2003) which related to injuries caused to a motorist who collided with horses who had escaped from their field onto the road. Liability has been established when a Bullmastiff bit a child in defence of its territory in the back of a car and also when a German Shepherd knocked over a small child when trying to attack another dog.




It goes without saying that any claim involving a personal injury element will be expensive and likely necessitate legal representation from someone experienced in handling claims featuring animals.

Horwich Farrelly have over 15 years of experience defending claims involving all types of animals, from valuable racehorses to domestic pets. Cases include successfully defending a multi-million pound claim against a veterinary surgeon following treatment of an Olympic showjumper, acting for the breeder of a high-class racehorse injured in a road accident, settling at mediation a complex multi-party claim involving chickens, as well as numerous matters involving cats, dogs and companion animals.

Our specialist in this area, Gill Nevin, accepts instructions from insurers to defend claims brought in negligence or allegations under the Animals Act. She has also defended members of the veterinary profession in both civil and disciplinary proceedings for many years and fully understands the risks associated with animal-related litigation. 

Gill has defended many claims brought under pet insurance policies and can offer practical advice on coverage issues. With particular and specialist knowledge of claims involving horses, she has also represented owners, jockeys and trainers in the horse racing industry as well as others involved in equine sports, such as hobby riders.