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Hong Kong courts

Girl, 12, attacked by dog in Hong Kong village and forced to miss 20 days of school, wins HK$580,000

Court judgment says compensation for treatment needed as psychological trauma and physical scars from Akita encounter will be lifelong

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 August, 2018, 9:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 August, 2018, 9:35am

A Hong Kong girl was awarded HK$582,997 (US$74,000) on Thursday for a severe dog attack that left her face scarred and forced her to miss school for 20 days when she was 9 years old.

Tang Yuet-yi, now 12, was chased and gnawed at by an Akita when walking past Fan Leng Lau village in Fanling in 2015.

She was bitten on the head, face, shoulder and chest repeatedly, leaving her with multiple wounds. The largest one measured six by two centimetres on her left chest, according to a District Court judgment handed down on Thursday.

Tang also suffered psychological trauma, which instilled a fear of all kinds of animals, including birds and cats.

A doctor who examined the girl said the scars would stay with the girl for the rest of her life.

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“When she grows up she will be more concerned with her cosmetic appearance ... and find that she cannot wear certain types of clothes and may have psychological trauma,” Dr Chow Sik-kuen testified.

District Court judge Liu Man-kin ordered the dog owner, Leung Man-chow, to pay Tang compensation for the girl’s suffering and future treatment.

Tang is required to undergo additional laser procedures, steroid injections and surgeries, the judgment noted.

It stated Tang just happened to encounter the dog when heading home with her elder sister on October 9, 2015.

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The Akita, who was not on a leash, suddenly gave chase and attacked Tang, who was rushed to the accident and emergency department of North District Hospital in Sheung Shui. She was later transferred to Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin.

She received sutures and was given 20 days of leave from her Primary Four classes.

They need to be trained and socialised properly
Dr Jane Gray, SPCA veterinary surgeon

Dr Jane Gray, chief veterinary surgeon of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said Akitas were a very loyal breed of dog originating from Japan, where they are known as Akita Inu.

“They were originally bred for guarding people and for hunting and tracking,” she explained, noting they could be fearless. Akitas are known for their fluffy and majestic appearance.

But she stressed that, just as any dogs, they could be friendly to humans, adding: “They need to be trained and socialised properly.”

In 2016, the breed triggered an awkward diplomatic episode between Russian President Vladimir Putin and two Japanese journalists.

The meeting went viral online after Yume, a 4-year-old Akita given by Japan to thank Russia for its help during the 2011 Fukushima disaster, would not stop barking at the journalists.

Putin, who led the brown Akita to perform a series of tricks, reportedly said: “Yume is a no-nonsense dog.”