My son was bitten by a stray dog while he was playing in his friend’s house. He was required by the doctor to have anti-rabies vaccination. We had a problem because, since it was not for free, I paid the doctor for the vaccine. Can I ask the owner of the dog to refund the amount I paid for the vaccine?
Republic Act (RA) 9482 or the Anti-Rabies Act of 2007 was enacted primarily to address prevalence of rabies in the country. Section 5 thereof particularly mandates owners of dogs to faithfully and religiously comply with the following responsibilities:
“Sec. 5. Responsibilities of Pet Owner. – All pet owners shall be required to:
(a) Have their dog regularly vaccinated against rabies and maintain a registration card, which shall contain all vaccinations conducted on their dog, for accurate record purposes.
(b) Submit their dog for mandatory registration.
(c) Maintain control over their dog and not allow it to roam the streets or any public place without a leash.
(d) Be a responsible owner by providing their dog with proper grooming, adequate food and clean shelter.
(e) Within 24 hours, report immediately any dog-biting incident to concerned officials for investigation or for any appropriate action and place such dog under observation by a government or private veterinarian.
(f) Assist the dog-bite victim immediately and shoulder the medical expenses incurred and other incidental expenses relative to the victim’s injuries.”
Clearly, among the responsibilities of a dog owner is to assist a dog-bite victim and defray all the expenses the victim incurred in connection with the injuries he/she sustained by reason thereof. Also, since the law mandates the dog owner to shoulder these expenses, he/she may be compelled to pay. Otherwise, the dog owner can be held criminally liable and meted the penalty of fine. This is according to Section 11 of the aforementioned law, which provides:
“Sec. 11. Penalties. – xxx
(4) Pet owners who refuse to have their dog put under observation and do not shoulder the medical expenses of the person bitten by their dog shall be meted a fine of P25,000.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org