Dog owner gets to continue negligence lawsuit against Penang council over pet’s death

Chendeladevan claimed MBPP officers’ alleged failure to exercise reasonable care in the treatment of Butcho had allegedly resulted in the dog’s death. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Chendeladevan claimed MBPP officers’ alleged failure to exercise reasonable care in the treatment of Butcho had allegedly resulted in the dog’s death. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — Dog owner K. Chendeladevan will be able to pursue his lawsuit against the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) for alleged recklessness and negligence that he claimed resulted in his dog Butcho’s death in February 2018, after the High Court ordered that the matter be heard in the Sessions Court.

Chendeladevan’s lawyer Marcia Lopez said the High Court in Penang allowed her client’s appeal against the Sessions Court’s previous dismissal of the lawsuit.

“Today, after a long appeal, the High Court Judge (Yang Arif Wong Hok Chong) agreed with us and thus, allowed Mr. K. Chendeladevan's appeal, with cost of RM4,000.

“The High Court ordered the case to be sent back for trial before the Sessions Court,” she told Malay Mail today.

Chronology of the case

Based on court documents sighted by Malay Mail, MBPP officers were said to have carried out an operation between 7am and 8am on February 28, 2018 at the island’s Batu Ferringhi beach area to capture stray dogs in the area, following news reports and complaints of tourists and visitors being attacked and bitten there.

During the operation at the beach area, MBPP enforcers had used a tranquilizer shot to capture the dog claimed to be Butcho, which the city council said had been alive then, but dazed when placed in a vehicle to be transported to the animal pound. MBPP said the dog was found dead upon arrival at the pound.

In March 2018, Chendeladevan publicly highlighted the case of his dog’s death.

After the dog’s death, Chendeladevan’s lawyers who acted on a pro bono basis for him filed a civil lawsuit in the Sessions Court on July 30, 2018 against MBPP.

In his lawsuit, Chendeladevan claimed to have held a valid licence for Butcho since 2014, and to also hold a valid licence for the dog from February 28, 2018 until December 2018, further asserting that the dog was tame and friendly and had not been complained to be a threat or having acted violently against anyone.

Among other things, he claimed that MBPP had acted negligently and recklessly in carrying out their duties and that its officers’ alleged failure to exercise reasonable care in the treatment of Butcho had allegedly resulted in the dog’s death.

Chendeladevan claimed to have suffered mental and emotional distress over Butcho’s death and related incidents surrounding the dog’s death, and is seeking a court order for the dog’s carcass to be returned to him and for compensation or damages to be paid to him.

Also based on court documents, MBPP had disputed Chendeladevan’s account of the events that took place on February 28, contending that its officers had discovered the dog claimed to be Butcho on the beach unaccompanied and without a collar or a valid registration badge and that it was considered to be a stray dog.

In its defence, MBPP also said it had previously explained that the dog’s death was due to old age or a cardiac arrest instead of the tranquilizer shot, adding that it was not obliged to return animal carcasses to anyone who asked for such returns and further noting that Butcho had been buried on the same day it died.

In its counterclaim against Chedeladevan, MBPP had sought for a court order for the dog licence issued to Chendeladevan at 11.47am on February 28, 2018 to be declared invalid and void.

On April 8, 2019, the Sessions Court in dismissing the case ruled that Chendeladevan did not have locus standi or legal standing to file the lawsuit as it found he had only obtained or applied for the dog licence at 11.47am on February 28, 2018, which the court said was after the dog claimed to be Butcho had been captured or died.

The second reason which the Sessions Court cited for the lawsuit’s dismissal was that it found the dog licence issued to Chendeladevan at 11.47am on February 28, 2018 to be invalid and void.

Chendeladevan’s lawyers then filed an appeal on April 18, 2019 to the High Court against the lawsuit’s dismissal, with the High Court then hearing the appeal on August 5 and September 8 this year before delivering its decision today.

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