A PEDIGREE Boxer dog has cost her owners more than €35,000 in damages and legal costs.
Jess, the family pet of Amanda McMahon and her former partner, Darren Anderson, of Forest Hills, Rathcoole, Co Dublin, bit the hand of postman James Coll, the Circuit Civil Court heard yesterday.
Barrister Karen Nolan said Mr Coll (50), of Royal Meadows, Kilcock, Co Kildare, was left with a two-inch-long scar on his right index finger, which can become numb while driving or in frosty weather.
She told Judge Jacqueline Linnane that Mr Coll was a relief postman on the Rathcoole route and had not been issued by An Post with any warnings of dangerous dogs on the route.
He had not been trained regarding mail drops through letterboxes at houses where there may be dangerous dogs.
Judge Linnane awarded Mr Coll just under €22,000 in damages. She said he had fallen backwards after being bitten and had struck his head on a concrete paving, also damaging one of his teeth.
She awarded Mr Coll's legal costs against Ms McMahon and Mr Anderson, as well as the legal costs of An Post, who were cleared of any liability for the incident. Costs are estimated at more than €13,000.
Mr Coll told the court there was no back-flap or bristle draught excluder on the inside of the front door at the defendants' home, with the result that his hand slipped through more easily.
The dog had snapped his finger as he pushed mail through into the hallway.
He said there had been no barking or growling from the hallway before he pushed the post into the letterbox.
Ms McMahon said Jess, a 30-inch-high pedigree Boxer, was a family pet but also a very good guard dog.
"She was very vocal and would certainly let visitors know she was in the hallway," she said. Mr Anderson was not called to give evidence.
Mick Byrne, the regular postman on the Rathcoole route, said he was familiar with the dog and nine times out of 10 she would have ripped the letters out of his hand as he "carefully pushed them through".