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B.C. court rejects appeal of woman attacked by three-legged dog

Bones, a rescue dog from Thailand, was put down after the 2017 attack.
The incident happened on Nov. 17, 2017 at a dinner gathering, state court documents.

A woman who was attacked by a friend's three-legged dog at a dinner party has lost her case in B.C.’s Court of Appeal.

Linda Evans had sued friends Erin Berry and Sophie Anderson, the owners of the dog, for damages after she was injured in the Nov. 17, 2017 incident.

Berry and Anderson rented an apartment together in Vancouver in 2017. Evans was a friend with whom they socialized periodically.

Bones the dog is a mixed breed from Thailand. The pair had adopted him through a rescue dog organization, said Justice Ronald Skolrood in the appeal ruling.

“He was described as on the ‘smaller side of medium’ and weighed about 30 pounds,” the judge said. “When he was adopted, Bones was missing one front leg and his other front leg was injured.”

He noted there had been some issues with Bones nipping people, and that he had nipped at other dogs at dog parks. He had also nipped Berry’s father.

The attack on Evans, an Irish-trained lawyer, happened as she and others were saying goodnight after a dinner gathering.

The attack

“I kneeled down to pet (Bones) and to say goodbye to him, and that seemed fine. And I remember when I was, you know, kneeling down and rubbing him, that he turned over onto his back exposing his belly, so that, to me, was a good indication that he was enjoying himself, and so I was — I was petting him on the belly,” Evans testified before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Maria Morellato.

“And I recall Erin saying, oh, that’s so lovely. He loves rubs from his aunty Linda. It was almost like seconds after that, you know, that he jumped straight at my face.

“I just — I just jerked backwards, like, really quickly, I just put my hands right up to my face…There was, like, the feeling of blood and then I kind of took them down to look, and that’s when I knew this was bad.”

She suffered a three-inch laceration to her forehead and a two-inch laceration to the left side of her face which required numerous stitches.

“Bones was subsequently euthanized, which was largely prompted by the incident with Ms. Evans,” Skolrood said.

Evans sought damages, including non-pecuniary; past loss of earning capacity; future loss of earning capacity; loss of housekeeping capacity; cost of future care; and special damages.

Berry and Anderson denied liability.

Witnesses testified at trial that Bones had been good throughout the evening.

Morellato found Berry and Anderson did not know Bones had the capacity to cause the type of damage he did to Evans.

She also found they had met the duty of care in taking Bones for training, having him medically taken care of and seeking assistance of a dog behaviourist through their vet.

“There is no evidence before me that the veterinarian, nor the dog trainers, were of the view that Bones ought to be muzzled or separated from others,” Morellato said.

As such, she dismissed Evans’ case.

The appeal

Skolrood said Evans had not proven that Bones had manifested a propensity to cause the type of harm and that Berry and Anderson knew of that propensity. Nor did Morellato err in finding that Berry and Anderson had not breached the applicable standard of care.

Skolrood said Evans advanced one additional argument in support of her negligence claim, saying Morellato erred in failing to consider whether the standard of care included a duty on the part of Berry and Anderson to warn guests, including Evans, that Bones had recently bitten Berry’s father.

Skolrood disagreed, saying that duty to warn would only arise if it were established that Bones had a propensity to bite people and cause harm and that Berry and Anderson knew of that propensity, and that harm was reasonably foreseeable.