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Horses & Dogs and the Law

How courts apportion liability in situations where dogs and horses interact negatively

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By: Catherine willson and Adrian Roomes |

Horses and dogs, although man's best friends, do not always get along. A dog shown a horse for the first time will often bark and may even attack the horse. If the horse is being ridden on a road when startled by a dog, the results can be tragic. The facts of the Ontario case of Moffat v. Downing, (1981) 32 O.R.(2d) 155 represent the classic example of what can occur when horses and dogs come into conflict. Two girls were riding their horses on a sideroad, while some children were playing with a dog on a grassy slope beside the road. The riders called to the children to restrain their dog, but they did not do so. The dog then ran towards the horses, barking and snapping at their heels. One horse reared up and threw its rider before turning onto the travelled portion of the highway, where it…

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