How much is your dog “worth”? According to those defending a case in front of the Georgia Supreme Court, if you got your dog for free, and your dog doesn’t have an income, then the market value of your dog is zero. That’s it — if your dog is killed by negligence, you get nothing. On the other hand, if you paid $2,000 for a purebred dog, you might recover that amount in damages.
Fair? “Not at all” say the Monyaks, a husband and wife who are both attorneys. They left their dog with Barking Hound Village kennel in Atlanta, and their contention is that the kennel mistakenly gave their small dog Lola medication meant for their larger dog, Callie. While the kennel stated in a court filing that “(T)here is no competent evidence that the dachshund was ever incorrectly medicated,” the Monyaks disagree. Their vet claims that someone from Barking Hound Village called the clinic asking about refilling the prescription for Lola as the medication had run out. He had not prescribed any medication for Lola.
The much larger dog, Callie, however, was on Rimadyl, an anti-inflammatory drug for managing pain in older dogs. In large doses, this medication can cause kidney damage. And in fact, the family noticed that Lola was not behaving as usual. Medical tests showed she was in acute kidney failure. The Monyaks took Lola to their vet and to the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital, where Lola could receive dialysis. Ultimately, Lola died from kidney failure.
Animal lovers should be outraged by the kennel’s argument. Elizabeth Monyak stated the kennel’s view that “a dog is like a toaster… when you break it, you throw it away and get a new one” is simply not true — emotionally or by law. While a dog may be property under the law, it’s a special kind of property.
The kennel is saying that they are not at fault and did nothing to cause Lola’s condition. Apparently, this healthy eight-year-old dog just spontaneously had acute kidney failure at the kennel through no fault of theirs. And the phone call to the vet? Nothing much said about that.
While the Animal Legal Defense Fund has filed a supporting brief on behalf of the Monyaks, other groups are supporting the kennel. In fact, the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Cat Fanciers’ Association, and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) wrote briefs supporting the kennel’s argument — that a pet’s sentimental value and the costs related to the injury should not be considered by juries. Part of their “concern” is that free clinics for spaying and neutering might have to close because of increased liability. (Really? Since when does the AKC, which makes money from dogs breeding and puppy registration, concern itself with spay and neuter clinics? Never is the right answer. The groups express their concerns for shelters and rescues, disingenuously stating that more pets will die in shelters because of higher costs for liability insurance.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution does an excellent job stating the complexity of the case at this link. FOX News in Georgia also covers this story here.
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