Jacqueline Fox attended a dog grooming salon, Muttcutz, in Sheffield to pick up the two Scottie dogs she had left there earlier in the day for grooming. The grooming salon is at the end of a gravel drive with the owner’s house at the opposite side of a car park area. Ms Fox had been there several times and was acquainted with the owner, Christina Buckley.
Bitten by a dog in grooming salon
When Ms Fox arrived, she saw a woman outside the salon, who she recognised as working at the salon, holding two collie dogs on leads. Ms Fox walked into the empty salon through the door that was ajar. She was followed shortly afterwards by the salon assistant and the two dogs. Ms Fox stood at the counter and the woman behind her with the dogs in between them. Ms Fox lowered her hand to one of the dogs, showing it the back of her hand so it could take her scent as she had done over many years as a dog owner and lover. The dog immediately bit her hand.
The salon worker then took the dogs into the back and the owner, Christina, appeared and dressed Ms F’s hand. She told Ms Fox that the dog had behavioural problems, particularly when around women that it didn’t know and that had she known Ms Fox was present she would have come over from her house sooner. Ms Fox had not been warned of this problem in advance.
Yellow Ribbon scheme
Later that evening, Christina texted Ms Fox and reiterated the fact that the dog had behavioural problems and the owner was working with a therapist. A couple of weeks later, when Ms Fox had heard nothing else from Christina, she wrote to her and Christina wrote back alleging several things, including:
- The dog was wearing a yellow ribbon as part of the yellow ribbon scheme and there were posters around the salon about the scheme.
- Ms Fox was only in the salon for a few minutes and did not see either of these things – nor had she ever heard of the scheme, even though she had been a customer for about ten years. Ms Fox has since read up on the scheme at www.yellowdoguk.co.uk which says that the scheme is not appropriate for dogs that might bite and that such dogs should be muzzled. Ms Fox believes that if the scheme is so important that the salon owner relies on it, why was she not warned by the salon worker who was holding the two dogs.
- The salon worker was standing next to Ms Fox with the dogs close to the door.
- This was not true – the dogs were between Ms Fox and the salon worker.
Grooming salon was negligent
Ms Fox has been left with a scar on her hand and psychological issues, which mean she is now wary around dogs. She felt that Christina did not take the incident seriously and contacted Graysons to see if she could get any redress for her injuries. As an expert in animal accidents, Mark took up her case. He was unable to negotiate a settlement with Christina, the salon owner, who denied responsibility, saying that the dog was not a risk or hazard and it was unforeseeable that it would bite – despite the fact it wore a yellow ribbon saying ‘I need space’. Christina argued that this was simply because the dog might wet itself. Mark had to issue court proceedings to pursue the case. Christina believed that Mark would not be able to win the case as he would not be able to show the characteristic that made the dog a known risk, nor prove that it had bitten before. Mark did, in fact, win the case, which was heard by High Court judge HHJ Robert Owen QC, as the court found that the salon owner had been negligent. The salon was small, and the owner knew that the dog had issues with women, yet it was brought into contact with Ms Fox, whom it bit. The salon worker could have turned the dog around and taken it out of the shop as Ms Fox was already in there.
Ms Fox was delighted with the outcome of the case, which goes to show that those in charge of dogs are responsible for their behaviour, even if the dogs are not their own. If you have been injured by an animal and would like to know if you can claim compensation, contact our experts now. You can also find out more about claiming compensation if you have been injured by an animal on our website.