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Dog Warden Frankie Coote: People should add their dog to their home insurance policy.

Dog owners warned of expensive liabilities if pet causes accident

DOG owners risk losing thousands of euros in damages claims if their pet is left uncontrolled and causes an accident on the road, the county’s dog warden Frankie Coote has warned saying, “You could lose your house if there was a serious accident”.

The stark reminder comes as Éilís Neville, chairperson of the Clare Ladies Cycling Club reveals two of the club’s members have been hurt in recent weeks following incidents involving dogs.

According to Mr Coote a dog must be on its owners property unless it is with the owner or a responsible person and under control. He is aware of successful large claims for compensation by people injured on the road as a result of an uncontrolled dog.

“There are dogs that chase bikes, dogs that just walk out and even dogs just outside on the road sleeping, but if a dog is outside the property and if there are any injuries or damage caused by them, then the owners are liable for full costs.

“There have been cases where people have got €30,000 or €40,000 from owners of dogs, people with broken hands and other injuries, out of work for months, and it can get very expensive.”

“You could lose your house if there was a serious accident. There are a lot of people out walking and cycling at the moment and people are entitled to be out on the public road and your dog must be under control.”

He also advises people to add coverage for any accidents caused by their dog to any home insurance policy.

Clare Ladies Cycling Club chair Éilís is urging pet owners to be mindful that this is the season when more and more cyclists are out on the roads travelling at high speeds.

“We don’t want to get hurt, and we also don’t want to hurt people’s dogs. We just want people to be mindful of their responsibilities to keep dogs under their control.”

One club member is currently out of work and recovering from a hip replacement having come off her bike fearing a barking dog was making its way from a property out onto the road.

More recently another club member split her cycling helmet in two coming off a bike when a dog ran out on the road.

“The dog came out of nowhere and went in under her bike, she literally went out over the handlebars of the bike and landed on her coccyx and split her helmet in two. Fortunately she didn’t break anything, but she was black and blue and in agony.”

Aside from injuries to cyclists, Éilís points out that the dogs also risk serious injury if they are hit by a cyclist at speed.

“Some of the women cyclists coming downhill can be hitting speeds of 40kph, while male cyclists could be hitting 60kph. If you think of a dog getting hit at that force and the damage it could do, even an average cyclist is travelling around 20kph.

“As a dog owner myself I know that if my dog went out onto the road I couldn’t guarantee he wouldn’t go after a bicycle, and as a dog owner I wouldn’t want to see my dog get hurt. This is about keeping everybody and the dogs safe. Accidents can be avoided simply by closing gates and keeping dogs off the road if they are not under someone’s control.

“The weather is good now and cyclists are back on the roads after the winter and we try to keep to the back-roads off the busy roads. The majority of cyclists are now out on Saturday and Sunday mornings and we are just asking people to be mindful and that we all have a bit of courtesy for each other for the sake of the dog and for the sake of the cyclist.”

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