06 Oct 2022

Man left with 'horrendous and painful' injuries after attack by dog in Offaly

Nine scars on paramedic's leg after attack by  labrador in Offaly

Man left with 'horrendous and painful' injuries after attack by dog in Offaly

A MAN was left with nine scars on his leg after a black labrador on a lead bit him while he was cycling near Dunkerrin, Tullamore District Court heard.

In a victim impact report, the man said he no longer felt able to go out cycling because he found it too difficult to pass a house with a loose dog.

The detailed victim impact report was ordered after Mary Fogarty, 59, Cloneganna, Roscrea, pleaded guilty to having an uncontrolled dog at Cloneganna, Dunkerrin on November 21, 2019.

Judge Catherine Staines said the impact report was so serious that she would read it into the public record.

In his report, the victim said he had worked as a paramedic for 25 years and was using cycling to help his recovery from a serious spinal injury.

On November 21, 2019, through no fault of his own, he was bitten by a dangerous and uncontrolled dog who he described as “very big, strong and angry”.

The injuries were horrendous and painful and required nine weeks of careful medical treatment before they eventually healed.

He was left with nine unsightly scars from each puncture wound that the dog's teeth made and that caused him embarrassment if he chose to wear shorts in hot weather.

He said that before being bitten, the dog had charged out of the open gate of Ms Fogarty's house on two occasions with the clear intention of doing him harm.

He managed to outrun the dog but if the animal had managed to knock him off the bike he had no doubt he'd have been mauled.

He said he asked that the dog be euthanised before he seriously injured anyone else but the owner declined that.

Instead, she gave an undertaking to a guard that she would not let the dog on a public road again but she did not keep to that.

The man said he had not cycled for a full year because of being bitten and that saddened him greatly.

It seemed to him that Mary Fogarty had no understanding of what it meant to be a responsible dog owner and while his leg had been seriously injured, a child could be seriously injured too.

When the case came before Tullamore District Court on April 14 last, Judge Staines had been told the dog was on a lead when the incident occurred.

Ms Fogarty had been out walking and the victim rang the bell on his bike, an act which it was claimed had frightened the dog and made it lunge forward and bite.

In an initial victim impact statement, the victim said he had stopped on the bike and rung his bell to get the owner's attention.

When he was passing the dog lunged across the road and sunk his teeth into his leg.

Judge Staines adjourned the matter for a more detailed report from the victim and for a letter from the dog warden in relation to the whereabouts of the dog.

At last week's sitting, which was attended by Mary and John Fogarty, Sergeant James O'Sullivan said the prosecuting guard, Garda Janis Nolan, had spoken to Haven Rescue and was told the dog had been surrendered to them by Mary and John Fogarty.

The dog was then rehomed after being assessed by qualified canine behaviourists and the rescue service was reluctant to provide information on the new owner as they believed it would be a breach of GDPR and would have an adverse affect on the service and would betray the trust of people who would have dogs.

Judge Staines instructed Sergeant O'Sullivan to tell the rescue service about the serious bite and that she had to make a decision on whether or not the animal had to be destroyed.

She said she would have to get details of where the dog was because it was an issue of a danger to the public.

Judge Staines said she was a dog lover herself but it seemed the accused had just passed the problem on instead of dealing with it appropriately.

John Fogarty told the court that in July after the biting incident he made an appointment with Damer Veterinary to get the dog put down.

Mary and he had decided to put him down because they were going back to work and since November had him contained in the area of the house.

They felt it would no longer be fair to keep him tied up at his age and they went to the vet to explain the situation.

Mr Fogarty said that after the vet sedated the dog he contacted the rescue centre. Mr Fogarty said he had not made the contact himself and had not asked the vet to do so.

He had gone to the vet with the intention of putting him down and described the dog as a family pet who was not very vicious and had not previously been involved in incidents.

Judge Staines said her concern remained about what the dog could do and she still wished to know where the dog was.

She made a court order requiring the dog warden to ascertain the animal's whereabout and while she did not need to know the personal details of the owners, she wanted to know where the dog was.

If necessary, she would have a summons issued against the people from the animal rescue centre so that they would appear in court and read the victim impact statement.

She repeated that she was a huge dog lover herself but the public had to be protected from attacks like the one carried out in this case.

A public apology was issued by Ms Fogarty's solicitor and the court was also told she accepted the seriousness of the stress and hurt caused to the victim.

The victim had received very substantial compensation, the court heard.

Judge Staines was also told the defendant was a teacher who had the labrador as a family pet for a long number of years and this was the first time in her life she had experience of being in a court.

She did not currently have another dog, the court heard.

Judge Staines said she wanted a written apology from the woman and when that was handed into the court she adjourned further consideration of the matter to May 26, saying she wished to know where the dog was.

While Ms Fogarty, who would be fined €200 when matters are concluded, was excused from attending court on May 26, the new owners could attend court if they wished and any relevant reports could be submitted so that a decision could be made on the dog.

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