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Digest of the Week — Do Cows Swim?

Porter v. Pond |
2004 CarswellNB 297 |
New Brunswick Court of Appeal

Animals | Liability of owner or possessor of animals | Injury by domestic animals | On highway

Farmer pastured cows in summer on island — While most of 125 cows were taken back across river in November, five cows remained on island as they could not be rounded up — Two cows swam across river from island and wandered onto highway — Motorist was injured when his vehicle hit cow — Trial judge determined that it was reasonable for farmer to pasture his cows on island, found owner not liable, and dismissed motorist's action for damages — Motorist appealed — Appeal dismissed — Owner of animals owes duty to others to exercise reasonable care to prevent them from escaping — Proper formulation of question was whether farmer took reasonable care to prevent his cows from escaping — While judge did not formulate question with such precision, she came to right conclusion — There was nothing unreasonable in relying on water barrier as fence — It was not reasonably foreseeable that two cows would escape to river and then wander onto highway.
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