Dog-bite victim's plea

Dog-bite victim's plea

Man urges Gov't to amend law and increase fine on owners

Senior staff reporter

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

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A man who was attacked by a cross-breed German shepherd and later diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy is pleading with the Government to amend the Dog Liability for Injuries Act to impose stiffer penalties on owners of dogs that attack people.

Wesley Daley, who was attacked in January 2018, said he decided to add his voice to the discussion because of how frequent reports of dog attacks have become.

Peripheral neuropathy refers to the conditions that result when nerves that carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord from and to the rest of the body are damaged or diseased.

The 30-year-old man, who told the Jamaica Observer in an interview yesterday that he has spent close to $600,000 in medical bills without any changes to his condition, said it was heartbreaking to read about the lives lost or injuries to people stemming from dog attacks which go unabated.

“I am asking the Government of Jamaica, I am appealing to the Government of Jamaica; honourable Andrew Holness, prime minister of Jamaica, and the security minister [Dr Horace Chang] to address this. This is an epidemic. These dogs are allowed to bite up teachers, killing elderly and wounding people. People can't go about their daily lives; and it is not happening only on the road, it is happening in homes as well. It is terrifying and traumatic,” Daley stated.

The 1877 Dog Liability for Injuries Act only addresses the civil liability of dog owners. According to the Act, “The owner of every dog shall be liable in damages for injury done to any person, or any cattle or sheep by his dog.”

Additionally, the Act says damages shall be recoverable in any court of competent jurisdiction by the person injured, or by the owner of such cattle or sheep killed or injured.

Daley shared with the Observer that after renting a flat in a St Catherine community, the dog, which he said was owned by his landlady, attacked him one morning as he made his way from the premises.

“A dog owned by the landlady [name omitted] attacked me while I was opening the front gate to the property. My back was turned to my car in the driveway. My face and body were positioned forward to the gate. I heard the collar from the dog's neck moving and when I turned around it was the dog coming full speed at me. We were face to face. At that moment I panicked. I did not know what to do. It's like I couldn't move. Something told me to try jump the gate. Everything happened so quickly; it's like I fell off the gate and by the time I fell and could catch myself to try and fight him off he bit me on my right foot,” Daley recalled.

He said at that moment, he began shouting for assistance and was eventually joined by the landlady, who called the dog by name, getting the animal to retreat.

“I was shocked. I was traumatised. I could not believe what happened because I was on the property for over a year. So I couldn't understand why the dog just attacked me,” he said.

He said that, to date, he has received no further assistance from the landlady and accused her of being casual about the situation.

Daley said it subsequently took him three hours to get to a doctor who administered an injection and prescribed medication.

“When I returned I spoke to her (landlady) about the situation and she said she is not taking no responsibility because I know a dog is on the property and is me go out there and make him bite me,” Daley alleged.

Several attempts by the Observer last night to get a response from the landlady were unsuccessful.

Daley said approximately two days after the attack he came down with severe fever, and recalled feeling excruciating pain all over his body.

He said he returned to the doctor and was told that the wound had been infected and that that was the reason he had a fever and was in pain.

“The doctor did an X-ray on my back and revealed to me that I have a musculoskeletal injury to the lumbar spine. She gave me medication and sent me home. But I was still having problems and developing new symptoms. I was having pain all over my body neck pain, ankle. The medication I was on wasn't working so I keep having to go back and forth,” he explained.

He said he was then referred to a specialist who also confirmed that he had an infected wound.

That doctor also prescribed medication which Daley said was of no help to him.

He said he was then referred to a physiotherapist and later a chiropractor.

Nothing worked, he said.

“Everything they tried to help me with was causing more pain. I just had to stock up on Advil and ice packs. I'm constantly in pain and I can't function for long,” he said.

Daley, who said he had handled dogs for years as a businessman before the incident, was also a certified commis chef at the time of the attack.

He was working on becoming a certified sous-chef at HEART Trust/NTA when his disability caused him to shelve his plan.

“As a result of the incident, I dropped out of the programme the year of graduation. I cannot travel [out of town] because of my injury. What it did is, it basically took my life away. It took everything from me,” said Daley.

Fighting a lawsuit from the landlady over his mounting rent due to his inability to work and medical bills which were piling up, Daley said he had to sell his car to offset some of the costs.

A judge later ordered that he leave the premises.

“After thinking about everything, I wouldn't want to hear somebody get injured in [the community] and I have to live with my conscience knowing that dog is out there,” he said, adding that he has asked that the dog be put down.

“The dog is still there. The dog is a danger to the community. It's very aggressive. Time after time it tried to bite me and I complained to her. I told her I was going to vacate the property which was the December. Right at the beginning of the new year, the tragedy took place,” he said.

“I stated before that I had a history with dogs, now I do not go near them. If I'm on the road I'm paranoid. I don't want to go anywhere a dog is — nobody's house, no vet. I dream about dogs; I have nightmares about dog attacks. When I read the stories online and in the paper it's heartbreaking. Knowing and hearing somebody else's story is heartbreaking. They (Government) just have to deal with it.

“I am a young person. It's not that I am a cruff on the corner holding up people and being a pest to society. I decided to live life on the positive side. I didn't deserve what happened to me,” Daley lamented.

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