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Dog owner sentenced after woman dies in attack

A Zurich court has handed the owner of a Dobermann a three month suspended prison sentence following the death of a woman after her pet attacked her. The owner of the dog was charged with failing to help the victim.

This content was published on June 14, 2001 - 23:10

The dog owner was not prosecuted for negligible homicide, however the victim's lawyer is claiming SFr70,000 in compensation, a claim that has been transferred to a civil tribunal.

Last November, the 41-year-old woman and her dog were walking along the Limmat River when the Dobermann, which was not on a leash, chased another pedestrian.

In her fright, the pedestrian jumped into the river and subsequently drowned in water that was 10 degrees.

A spate of dog attacks in Europe has put pressure on authorities to clamp down on owners whose pets pose a threat to humans.

In January, a working group on dangerous dogs, led by the Federal Veterinary Office, rejected the idea of banning certain races or making it obligatory for owners to use a leash as effective ways of tackling the problem.

The prosecutor reprimanded the Dobermann's owner for not having complete control of her pet and for failing to do everything possible to save the pedestrian from drowning. According to the prosecutor, the victim did not know how to swim.

The victim's body was found three days later, 500 metres downstream.

The prosecutors also pointed out that the Dobermann had bitten another woman three years earlier. They argued the owner consequently had to be aware that the dog was a potential danger and keep it on a leash.

According to the defence, the dog had only "nipped the woman as a game" and had not "actually bitten" the person.

Following last year's incident, the dog was examined and is in the care of another person.

swissinfo with agencies

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