Liability for Animals
In this article we discuss about liabilities for animals & relevant case laws.
- Liability for keeping animlas 'ferae naturae'.
- Liability for keeping animals 'mansuetae naturae'.
- Death or injury caused by wild animals.
Liability for keeping animals 'ferae naturae':
Ferae naturae is a Latin word meaning wild, referring to all animals that are
not allowed to be kept as pets. In natural law it is generally accepted that no
one owns property, but a person can acquire property by seizing a natural right
as a natural right.
As stated above, there is a firm and irrefutable presumption that doe naturae
custodians are aware of their dangerous nature and if an animal gets out of
control and causes damage." , then he will be held legally responsible. The
guardian holding this animal is at his own risk and responsibilities are very
strict. Liability arises even when there is no evidence of negligence.
therefore, if the respondent's pet monkey bites the plaintiff, the respondent
will be liable even if there is no evidence of the defendant's carelessness in
handling the monkey. It is not an excuse to say that the animal in question,
although of the fairae naturae category, is in fact an animal that has been
tamed or even trained in a circus or that the animal acts for fear rather than
Case law: Behrens v. Bertram Mills Circus Ltd.
there, the defendants ran a circus. A circus-trained Burmese elephant was
frightened by the barking of a small dog. The elephant chased the dog towards a
cabin, the cabin overturned and the applicant staying in the cabin, although not
physically injured, was in shock and was bedridden for a week. the elephant is
an ordinary natural animal and the court does not consider the Burmese elephant
to be a different kind. The court also did not consider that the fact that the
animal did not act violently but out of fear had any effect on the legal
liability of the defendants.
Liability for keeping animals 'mansuetae naturae':
Mansuetae naturae means natural gentleness. It refers to animals that are
naturally docile and easy to handle. These animals are not aggressive and are
usually calm around humans. Examples of animals are mansuetae naturae which
includes cows, sheep, and horses.
In order to hold the defendant liable for damage caused by a pet animal or
harmless pet, two things must be proven:
The position was explained by Bankes, LJ in Buckle v. Holmes therefore:
- that the animals in question have an uncommon evil disposition towards
animals of that species; And
- that the defendant actually knew about the crime.
This group includes dogs, cows and horses, which are not dangerous to humans.
Individuals of this type may develop predispositions, but unless and until they
do, they are not considered to be animals of which the owner is at his own risk
and danger; and omitting trespasses for the time being, the owner is not
responsible for any damage these animals may cause in the absence of
However, an individual of this type may cease to be a person for whom damage is
not liable to its owner, if he gives him signs of an evil or dangerous
disposition. When an animal is found to be of such a nature by its owner, it
switches to an animal category at the owner's own risk.
Buckle v. Holmes
In Buckle v. Holmes, the defendant's cat entered the plaintiff's land and there
killed thirteen pigeons and two of the plaintiff's bantam hens. Since the cat
did so according to the common instincts of the species and there was no evil
disposition towards this cat, its owner was not held responsible. Likewise, if
the plaintiff was bitten by the respondent's dog that was previously prone to
attacking humans and the respondent knew about it, the respondent would be held
In Manton v. Brocklebank
, the respondent's mare and the plaintiff's horse
are in the field with the permission of its owner. The defendant's horse kicked
and injured the plaintiff's horse. Since the tendency to kick and bite other
horses is common to all horses, the defendant is not liable.
Death or injury caused by wild animals:
In the State of Himachal Pradesh v. Halli Devi
resident of Rohla village, Chamba district, on his way to the cowshed to feed
the cows on March 27, 1989, was attacked by a wild animal, a black bear.
fractures in various parts of the body and complete loss of vision in the left
She was granted Rs. 5,000/- as exgratia relief
She filed a lawsuit to claim back Rs 1,000,000 as compensation for the injuries
she suffered. She claimed that divisional forestry staff, as part of a wildlife
protection program, released bears and other protected animals into the forest.
It was held that killing wild animals alone is Prohibited by law does not mean
that the state assumes ownership of the animals, nor does it create state
liability for death or injury resulting from such animals.