A giant eagle owl has reportedly been terrorising the people of Inverness over the last week. Whilst one might usually think of owls as being wise, calm creatures who will helpfully deliver your mail for you when the Post Office is being a bit slow (no, wait … that’s just in Harry Potter), this owl has apparently attacked two pedestrians in recent days and has evaded all attempts at capture by the local raptor expert and his rather large net.
One of the pedestrians reported that he was knocked out and left in a pool of blood after the owl attacked his head, whilst the other bravely engaged in a bout of fisticuffs with the bird, narrowly avoiding a similar head injury. The owl is believed to have either escaped from an aviary or to have been released by an owner into the wild who considered the costs of keeping an eagle owl to have been too prohibitive.
Leaving aside the issue of who, exactly, keeps a giant eagle owl as a pet in the first place, the incident raises some interesting legal questions about vicarious liability for injuries inflicted by pets. The Animals (Scotland) Act 1987 provides for strict liability for injuries or damage caused by pets in certain circumstances, specifically where
“… the animal belongs to a species whose members generally are by virtue of their physical attributes or habits likely (unless controlled or restrained) to injure severely or kill persons or animals, or damage property to a material extent.”
My knowledge of the physical attributes and habits of eagle owls being woefully limited, I cannot say whether the owl in question would fit into that category, and the majority of people are unlikely to suffer the same fate as the unlucky pedestrians in Inverness. Dog bite injuries are, however, a more common occurrence and dogs are specifically covered by the provisions of the Act (as incidentally are asses, mules and hinnies. Anyone out there know what a hinny is? Answers on a postcard, please).
If you have suffered a dog bite or any other pet-related injury, contact a specialist accident solicitor like Thompsons who can help you to claim compensation for your injury, without getting into a flap about it.