A court in southwestern China’s Guizhou province ruled that a man who had been feeding a stray dog for several months should pay thousands of dollars in compensation to another man accidentally injured by the animal, domestic outlet Red Star News reported Thursday.
Last September, the plaintiff, a man in his 60s surnamed Zan, was knocked down by a stray dog on his way home from a farmers market in Zheng’an County. He suffered multiple rib fractures on the right side of his body — a Grade 10 injury under China’s official injury classification system that “partially limits a person’s daily activities,” as well as their ability to work or study.
According to a police investigation that followed, the dog was often fed by a local resident surnamed Wan. When Zan sued Wan for 70,000 yuan ($10,200) in damages at the Zheng’an County court, the defendant argued that although he had been feeding the dog, he should not be held responsible for Zan’s injuries because the animal was a stray.
But the county court sided with the plaintiff, ruling that, by feeding the stray dog often, Wan had become the animal’s “de facto caretaker.” Because Wan had been feeding the dog “improperly,” the court said, the animal had come to depend on him for food, and would often wander the neighborhood waiting for his next meal. For these reasons, the court determined that Wan should pay Zan at least 60,000 yuan in compensation.
Dissatisfied with the verdict, Wan appealed to the intermediate people’s court in Zunyi, the city that administers Zheng’an County. Through court-ordered mediation, the two parties agreed on Sept. 4 that Zan would pay Wan 40,000 yuan in compensation.
An official from the Zheng’an County court told Red Star News that the dog would often hang out around the store where Wan works, and the man had basically been feeding the animal every day for months.
According to China’s Tort Liability Law, if an animal in a person’s care causes damage or harm to someone else, then the caretaker shall bear legal responsibility.
“Wan fed the stray dog, so he can be considered the animal’s caretaker,” said the official, adding that it’s only OK to feed stray animals in moderation. “If you feed him frequently, the dog will come to this area frequently and pose a danger to others. Instead, you could either adopt the animal in accordance with laws and regulations, or send it to a shelter.”
Because of abandonment and unchecked reproduction, China’s millions of stray cats and dogs have become a hot-button social issue. To tackle this hirsute headache, cities across the country have established animal shelters and organized pet adoption events, encouraging people to take in rescued strays.
This year, the Shanghai government has been promoting TNR (trap, neuter, release), an approach that is globally recognized as the most humane and effective method for controlling stray animal populations.
Editor: David Paulk.
(Header image: People Visual)