Obtaining Justice Under Current US and Canadian Dog Laws

When most of us think of animal laws, we think of dog bites and liability – but there is another side to the coin. What if someone harms your pet? What then? Most Animal laws in the US and Canada are based on a 1919 Dog Law that essentially says your pet is a piece of property – that your pet is a living, breathing, feeling creature doesn’t matter. The law as it stands, does not protect any pet or its owner when a veterinarian gets sloppy or a neighbor is malicious. The law states our pets are just “chattel” a word that means they are regarded as akin to a chicken, a goat, or other easily replaced livestock. At one time we lived in a farm society, however, that is no longer the case. There is no acknowledgment that to most of us, our pets are like our children and are no less than family members. In many jurisdictions, your pet has no more rights or value than a table lamp! In my research over a wrong done to my own pet I discovered that many professionals hide behind this law. When you visit a veterinarian’s office they refer to your pet as Fluffy your last name, call you a pet parent, and imply that no expensive procedure is too much for a beloved family member. Yet, if your pet is harmed by negligence or accident, it suddenly becomes just property to that same professional. In my research I discovered it is very common for insurance carriers of professionals to hide behind and use this law to their advantage to avoid paying claims. Sadly this needs to be changed. Animal rights groups go too far demanding guardianship for animals – effectively creating responsibilities and requirements that would make having pets prohibitively expensive for most of us. They do this because they really do not want us to have animal companions. The answer in my opinion is a new category – somewhere between human children and table lamps. The law needs to acknowledge a category specifically created for our beloved family member pets who share our day to day lives. In some states this has been classified as sentient property or property that has intrinsic value. Lawsuits have been fought on these grounds and won, though not easily. This is mainly because the 1919 dog law is used to negate that our pets have feelings and disallow them pain and suffering. A new category would protect the animals we love – the dogs and cats that live in our homes, service dogs, and working dogs that help provide income for their owners (such as herding sheep or guiding the blind) so that if an animal is harmed, it would reimburse the owner for actual damages. The 1919 Dog laws say a blind person can spend thousands to train a service dog that their life and livelihood depends on, but one veterinary mistake that maims or kills the dog – and the owner has no recourse and the dog little value. Many dogs fill this role: police dogs, herding dogs, assistance dogs. Owners who depend on their working pets cannot collect lost wages, training expenses, or even obtain real value to offset their sometimes severe losses. In most states the requirements are so unreasonable, it would cost thousands more than the actual damages to even bring the case to trial. For example, a veterinarian is ONLY liable for the vet bill to repair the dog – as if he were a table lamp. If the dog dies, the owner often has even less recourse. The owner will often receive market value – which for an older or mixed-breed dog is not very much. Puppies are only worth their purchase price and every month of their lives their worth decreases. Conceivably, an adult dog is essentially worthless under the 1919 dog law – even a dog with special training or used for breeding. So if a well-trained, service dog is essentially worthless, where does this leave companions to the elderly or a child’s beloved pet? In essence, there is no accountability. Some have tried to change the laws, but unfortunately, there are strong lobbies that thwart that effort. More information about the state of current dog laws: http://omalmalamutes.com/omal/doglaw.htm Cindy O’Malley Dog Behaviorist and Dog Breeder (I’m not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV, but have dealt with the legal system in the above capacity and discovered what a lot of us don’t like to think about!) http://omalmalamutes.com Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Cindy_OMalley

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Obtaining Justice Under Current US and Canadian Dog Laws

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