The owner of a reputable dog is not answerable in damages for its entry upon the lands of another upon its own volition under circumstances amounting to an unprovoked trespass. However, the rule is different where a dog owner or keeper for the purpose of sport intentionally sends a dog on the lands of another or releases a dog or pack of dogs with knowledge, actual or constructive, that it or they likely will go on the lands of another or others in pursuit of game. In such cases the true rule would seem to be that the owner or keeper, in the absence of permission to hunt previously obtained, is liable for trespass, and this is so although the master does not himself go upon the lands, but instead sends or so allows his dog or dogs to go thereon in pursuit of game.
Plaintiff homeowner filed an action to recover damages for alleged trespasses committed by foxhounds of defendant neighbour while in the heat of chase onto his land. At the close of plaintiff's evidence, the trial court granted defendant's motion for judgment as of nonsuit. On appeal, the court reversed the judgment of the trial court.
Was there sufficient evidence to carry plaintiff homeowner’s action for damages to the jury based on alleged trespasses committed by defendant neighbour’s dogs?
Evidence was sufficient to carry the case to the jury on the theory of trespass. Evidence justified the inference that defendant neighbour, without permission of plaintiff homeowner, on numerous occasions intentionally and for the purpose of sport sent his pack of dogs, or released them knowing that they were likely to go across the lands of plaintiff in pursuit of foxes, whereby plaintiff sustained substantial damage to his fences and other property. Without further elaboration it was enough to say that the evidence when tested by the applicable principles of law was sufficient.