Dog owner ordered to cough up for attack on elderly man

Dog owner ordered to cough up for attack on elderly man

A Centurion businessman has to compensate an elderly customer who was injured when the man’s Boerboel dog savaged him, the High Court in Pretoria has ruled.

Judge Cynthia Pretorius ruled that Llewelyn Smith was 100% liable for the damages suffered by 74-year-old Mervyn Schmidt of Valhalla, as a result of the dog attack at Smith’s business premises three years ago.

Schmidt went to the business in Centurion in 2015, to buy a two-way radio. He was going back to his car to get something when the dog jumped on him from behind. The dog put his front paws on Schmidt’s shoulders, causing him to fall onto his hands and knees.

The Boerboel then bit him on the scalp, right arm and hand before an employee rescued him and took the dog away. He said that when he was taken back into the office, Smith swore and asked who had let the dog out. A woman in the office apologised, saying she thought Schmidt had left.

Schmidt said he saw the Boerboel lying in the sun when he entered the premises, but an employee put the dog in a garage before he left his car. He did not hear or see the dog before the attack.

He had treatment for injuries to his hands, knees, head, neck and shoulder and will in future have to have further treatment, including surgery, physiotherapy and psychotherapy.

Schmidt is claiming more than R880 000 from Smith for his past and future medical costs, loss of earnings and earning capacity, pain, suffering, emotional shock, disfigurement, disability and loss of enjoyment and amenities of life.

Smith denied liability, claiming Schmidt “provoked” the dog by leaving the office “at a trot”. Schmidt said he was walking.

One of Smith’s employees testified that the dog had not attacked anyone before, but was shut away when customers arrived as “not everyone likes dogs”.

Judge Pretorius found Schmidt had not provoked the dog, that the Boerboel had acted contrary to the nature of domestic animals and that Smith, as the owner, was liable even though no negligence had been proven against him.

Credit: YASMEEN OSMAN