Lamma Island

Pet rescuer cleared over attack by dogs on jogger

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 January, 2012, 12:00am

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The founder of Hong Kong Dog Rescue yesterday walked free from Eastern Court after being accused over an attack by a pack of dogs on a jogger.

Deputy Special Magistrate Stephen Yeung Shu-bun ruled there was no evidence to show it was Sally Andersen's dogs that bit Mitch MacDonald.

Andersen, represented by Daniel Marash SC, was charged with contravening the Rabies Ordinance by having dogs that bit someone while they were not on a leash or under control in a public place.

At the trial, MacDonald, a 36-year-old Canadian who lives on Lamma Island, said he was surrounded by 20 to 25 dogs while running in a quarry in Sok Kwu Wan in October 2010. Medical records showed he was bitten twice.

The court was told Andersen had been out walking with more than 20 dogs and the group that bit MacDonald ran towards her when she yelled at them following the attack.

Yeung said prosecutor Neil Mitchell had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Andersen's dogs had bitten MacDonald.

He accepted that MacDonald was an honest and reliable witness but said his recollection of the incident was vague. 'There is no clear evidence from [MacDonald] that the dogs that had bitten him went to the defendant,' he said.

Andersen said in a statement that she did not witness the attack, because she was too far away and was walking in the opposite direction.

Another key point in the case was whether the location of the incident was a public place. Although Ho Ka-keung, an estate surveyor from the District Lands Office, told the court that the quarry was not intended for public use, Yeung ruled otherwise as members of the public could enter the place easily and used it frequently. It is currently leased to the Young Men's Christian Association.

Andersen said after the verdict that she was very relieved, describing the incident as an unfortunate accident. She said she was not surprised by the verdict.

'I'm just sorry it had to come to court in the first place. Evidence was made open right at the beginning, so there were no surprises,' she said.

The court heard that Lamma Island had a considerable problem with strays and the 59-year-old animal-lover had taken care of some 5,000 dogs over the years. Andersen said yesterday that her dogs were not aggressive, saying joggers should pay attention to their surroundings.

'It was a very isolated incident.'