Jul 23rd, 2020
Apr 30th, 2019
By Laurent Debrun
The plaintiffs operate a small Maremma and Abruzzese sheepdog breeding farm. An Italian canine breed, these dogs serve as sheepdogs. The male can weigh up to 120 pounds and his hair is completely white. One of the plaintiffs' dogs, Maximus, was a dog of mild temperament showing no signs of aggressiveness. On November 15, 2015, the last day of the rifle deer hunting season in the area where the plaintiffs live and operate their breeding farm, the plaintiffs were outside with four (4) of their dogs loose in the field. The dogs then disappeared into the bushes. Behind the plaintiffs' property, there are miles of forest. That day, the defendant was hunting deer on the land of the plaintiffs' neighbor with his 13 year old son. The plaintiffs heard two (2) gunshots. The next day, they confronted the defendant, who finally admitted to having shot Maximus. The defendant told the plaintiffs that they could find their dog in a ravine on the neighbor's property. However, the plaintiffs could not find the dog where the defendant told them he was. A complaint was made to the police. The defendant then changed his version of the events, denying even having shot the dog.
The dog was finally found 15 km away in a ravine. The plaintiffs performed an autopsy revealing that the dog died instantly due to a bullet through the heart. The defendant then confessed to the police that he had shot, allegedly because he felt threatened while hunting, and then moved the corpse. According to the court, leaving the dog loose might have constituted a regulatory violation. It might also have constituted a civil fault but it was not the cause of the accident.
The plaintiffs' fault (leaving the dog loose) was not causal to the harm they suffered, i.e., the brutal loss of their dog Maximus. Maximus' death was not a logical, direct and immediate consequence of his owners' violation of the municipal by-law requiring the owner of a dog to keep it on a leash. The plaintiffs made a claim for loss of profit of $ 117,323, alleging that they intended to use Maximus for breeding purposes on their farm. The court found that Maximus was not intended for breeding purposes and did not award those damages but it ruled that the plaintiffs should be reimbursed for the cost of the dog's acquisition and the cost of importing it into Canada. The court awarded each of the plaintiffs the sum of $ 5,000 for non-pecuniary damages as compensation for pain and suffering as a result of the tragic loss of Maximus.
This publication is of a general nature, is as of the date indicated and is not intended to constitute an opinion or legal advice. The facts and circumstances of your particular situation should be specifically identified and addressed before appropriate legal advice may be given.