Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / China / Society

Woman's dog-related death sparks liability debate

By CUI JIA | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-08-20 07:35
Share - WeChat

The death of an elderly woman caused by a dog running loose has been ruled an accident by local authorities, though netizens are still discussing whether the dog's owner or the child who secretly took the dog out should be held responsible.

The incident occurred on Monday evening as the 88-year-old woman, surnamed Mai, was standing on a road in Foshan, Guangdong province. When the dog-which was wearing a leash but had gotten away from the girl walking it-ran past the woman, its leash wrapped around the woman's legs, pulling her feet out from under her and causing her to fall on her face.

She was sent to hospital where she was pronounced dead, the local Xingtan township government said on Tuesday evening.

According to a police investigation, a 12-year-old girl surnamed Luo unchained the dog at the entrance of another villager's house and took it for a walk without informing the owner. It later broke free and caused the incident, which was caught on surveillance camera. The shocking footage soon went viral on Chinese social media.

Surveillance footage shows the pet, a large white dog, chasing another dog while its black leash was dragging along the ground behind it. The dog then ran past Mai. In a split second, she fell on her face after the dog's leash wrapped around her feet.

A girl believed to be Luo soon appeared in search of the dog. She found the dog and ran away while ignoring Mai, who was lying motionless on the ground.

The incident triggered heated discussion on social media about whether anyone should be held responsible for the woman's death and how to prevent similar tragedies.

"The dog walker is only 12, so she is exempt from criminal liability. What's more, she did not intend to let the dog run free. It's just an unfortunate accident," Peng Xinlin, a criminal law professor at Beijing Normal University, said on Wednesday. "But the young girl's legal guardian should have civil liabilities."

According to China's Civil Code, animal owners or caregivers should be held fully responsible if their animals hurt others due to a lack of safety precautions, including having them leashed at all times.

Bai Xiangfei, a lawyer from Hanshang Law Firm in Shanghai, said that the dog's owner should be held liable without fault.

It doesn't matter if the owner knew the dog was unchained or not. The fact is that his pet caused the accident, so he should be held responsible in accordance with the Civil Code, Bai explained.

The Xingtan government said it will step up efforts to educate owners about how to handle their dogs in accordance with the law.

Authorities around China have intensified law enforcement efforts on pet management to reduce accidents and conflicts caused by pets that have become increasingly popular among Chinese households.

In July, Shanghai police decided to fine dog owners on the spot for walking their dogs without registration tags and leashes.

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349