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Bamboo No 2 doctor gets justice for puppy mauled by neighbour’s dog

Jada Loutoo Maltese puppy Malakai celebrated his second birthday on December 17, 2021, days before it was mauled by a neighbour's dog. -
Maltese puppy Malakai celebrated his second birthday on December 17, 2021, days before it was mauled by a neighbour's dog. -

A doctor from east Trinidad will receive compensation from her neighbours after one of their dogs mauled her dog to death.

On Wednesday, Justice Frank Seepersad ruled on an application for summary judgment filed on behalf of Dr Aleena Ishmael, of Bamboo Settlement No 2, Valsayn South, against her next-door neighbours, Navin Birbal and Sati Ramnarine.

In his ruling, Seepersad said the court formed the view that the defence did not outline matters which had a realistic prospect of success.

“The claimant is entitled to summary judgment,” he ruled. Seepersad declined to assess the amount of compensation for Ishmael, instead referring it to a master for an assessment. He said evidence needed to be advanced for a proper assessment to be done, giving the defence the opportunity to test it.

Ishmael was represented by attorney Richard Jaggasar. Birbal and Ramnarine were represented by attorney Lasana Murray.

In her lawsuit, Ishmael – the niece of businessman Inshan Ishmael – said the couple’s three mixed-breed dogs, which would frequently escape from their property and roam the area, entered her property on December 30, 2021, and mauled her Maltese puppy, Malakai.

“Since the death of my dog, I have experienced a tremendous amount of trauma and psychological stress. I loved Malakai with all my heart…,” Ishmael said in the application for summary judgment.

She said the puppy was considered a family member and she wanted to avoid a trial, “simply because I am not in the right emotional state to review those images and videos,” of Malakai’s death.

Ishmael also said since the family no longer felt safe on the property, it has been put up for sale.

“This is all because whenever I enter the property, I get flashbacks of the attack and the defendants’ dog running into our property, rushing me and killing Malakai.”

Ishmael’s claim was that one of the three dogs, Rusty, mauled Malakai, while she managed to get away when she heard her mother’s screams. At the time of the attack, she said she had a foot fracture and as she tried to escape the trespassing dog, her injury was aggravated and she had to have surgery in October 2022.

When Malakai was mauled, Ishmael use her medical training to try to stop his bleeding.

Ishmael told Newsday she was relieved she has finally got justice for Malakai.

“I did this for him. He needed justice. He was more than a pet, he was family.” She admitted since the mauling she and her family have been on a “rollercoaster of emotions.”

“The physical, mental and emotional toll we suffered and continue to suffer. We had to sell our property because every day we were reliving the attack.”

Initially, Ishmael sought an order under the Dog Control Act for the dog responsible for her dog’s death to be euthanised and for the other two to be properly confined to the couple’s property, but it was not pursued.

Instead, she is seeking compensation for her medical treatment; her emotional and psychological injuries, loss of income – she worked at the Caura Hospital and also did private jobs and house calls– since she had to take sick leave during her recovery; and for trespass.

In its defence, the couple admitted the dogs escaped, but claimed Ishmael's dog’s death was not caused by the mauling. They also claimed Ishmael’s property was not properly fenced.

“Malakai died minutes after the attack which is captured on video. Photos have been annexed to show all of the attempts I made to save Malakai’s life. To hear the defendants suggest that something else caused the death of Malakai is embarrassing and heart wrenching,” Ishmael's application said.

She also said the defence that she might have invited a trespass was “a ridiculous and obnoxious suggestion.”

Ishmael provided video evidence to show times when the neighbour’s dog had entered her family’s property.

Under Section 19 of the legislation, a court can order the destruction of a Class A dog if it has injured or killed a person or animal outside private premises.

The legislation identifies six dog breeds as Class A and dogs bred from those breeds are also classified in the same way. The breeds are American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, Dogo Argentino, Japanese Tosa, and Fila Brasileiro.

In their defence, the couple claimed one of their dogs is a German Shepherd and the other two are German Shepherd crosses.

At an earlier hearing, in an order in July 2022, Seepersad directed the couple to remove Rusty from the property until the trial was completed. He also ordered the owners to secure the two other dogs and not allow them to escape. The couple had agreed.