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Your dog, too, might be “worthless”


It’s bad enough that Barking Hound Village — an upscale day care and boarding facility with locations around Atlanta — is defending itself in Georgia’s Supreme Court by arguing, in part, that a dog that died after being in its care was “worthless.”

What’s even scarier, and more hypocritical, are the organizations that are agreeing with that.

When the case went before the state’s highest court yesterday among the documentation the judges had to consider was a friend of the court brief, filed by the American Kennel Club, the Cat Fanciers’ Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association — all agreeing pets are mere “property” and that courts should award no more than “market value” in cases involving their deaths.

Yes, Barking Hound Village, at least on its website, professes to love your dog — and clearly has no problem charging you $60 a night for said dog to stay in its “presidential suite.”

And yes, veterinarians have no problem with you spending tens of thousands of dollars on your sick dog.

And, for sure, the American Kennel Club is only too happy to see the price of dogs go up, up, up — at least the provably purebred ones whose owners have registered them with the organization.

But your average, paperless pet, in the view of all those “pet-loving” organizations, is worth nothing — at least according to the friend of the court brief.

lolaThe case centers around a dachshund mix named Lola, who was 8 years old when she died of renal failure after her stay at the kennel.

Lola’s owners allege Lola was given medication she wasn’t supposed to receive, and it ultimately led to her death.

Barking Hound Village denies that it is responsible for Lola’s death. And even if it were, its lawyer argue, Lola’s owners should not recover anything more than the dog’s market value — in Lola’s case, since she was adopted from a rescue, exactly zero dollars.

“Their position is that a dog is like a toaster — when you break it, you throw it away and get a new one,” Elizabeth Monyak told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “A dog is indeed property under the law, but it’s a different kind of property.”

She and husband Bob Monyak spent $67,000 on veterinary expenses, including regular dialysis treatments for Lola.

Neither are strangers to the courtroom. She works for the state attorney general’s office. He’s also a lawyer, specializing in defending medical malpractice and product liability lawsuits. He argued Lola’s case before the justices on Tuesday.

Both sides have their supporters.

In the brief filed by the AVMA and AKC, the groups argued that considering a pet’s emotional value will lead to exorbitant amounts being awarded to pet owners in wrongful death lawsuits. And that, they all but threaten, would lead to bad things.

“Concerns over expanded liability may cause some services, such as free clinics for spaying and neutering, to close,” the groups said. “Shelters, rescues and other services may no longer afford to take in dogs and other pets … Fewer people will get pets, leaving more pets abandoned in shelters to die.”

The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a brief in support of the Monyaks. It cited industry studies showing U.S. pet owners spent $58 billion on their animals in 2014, including $4.8 billion on pet grooming and boarding.

“It is hypocritical for these businesses, including (Barking Hound Village), to exploit the value of the human-companion bond, while simultaneously arguing that the same should be unrecoverable when that bond is wrongfully — and even intentionally — severed,” the ALDF said.

The Monyaks boarded Lola and their other dog, Callie, at Barking Hound Village in 2012. At that time, Callie had been prescribed Rimadyl, an anti-inflammatory for arthritis. The Monyaks contend the kennel incorrectly gave the Rimadyl to Lola.

They further allege that Barking Hound Village knew that a medication error had occurred during Lola’s stay, and the kennel covered it up by destroying evidence and withholding critical information.

They seek to recover expenses for Lola’s veterinary treatment as well as for the value Lola had to their family.

Barking Hound Village denies any wrongdoing. It says both dogs were fine when they left the kennel. And attorneys for the kennel said this in court filings:

“The purchase price of the dachshund was zero dollars, the rescue dog never generated revenue and nothing occurred during the Monyaks’ ownership of the dog that would have increased her market value. The mixed-breed dachshund had no special training or unique characteristics other than that of ‘family dog.'”

We hope the Georgia Supreme Court uses the case of Lola to send a message to those who see dogs as mere “property.”

And we’d love to see an answer to this question, from the kennel, from the AVMA and from the AKC:

If our dogs are so “worthless,” how do you explain the fact that you are getting so rich off of them?

(Photos: Top photo by Branden Camp, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; photo of Lola provided by Monyak family)


Comment from TOS
Time January 20, 2016 at 11:05 pm

This is one of the most heartless things I’ve ever read. I feel so bad for that family.

Comment from Indiah
Time January 21, 2016 at 10:19 am

I know all too well about a “mistake” in meds killing a family’s dog. And it was just like this. My (former) vet prescribed an antibiotic for my dog’s kidney disease. First of all – antibiotics do not cure or treat kidney disease! And second, the FDA package insert clearly stated the antibiotic was NOT for use in dogs with kidney disease. When I questioned the vet she got uber nasty about how SHE was the vet not me and if I did not follow her instructions she would “turn me in” to the authorities for animal neglect. She actually gave my dog the first pill despite my stating in no uncertain terms I did NOT want him to have the medication. 24 hours later, after having several seizures, he was gone. Not even dialysis would have saved him. It was five years ago this past Christmas (he passed on Christmas eve day) and I still grieve for my forever heart dog. People do not understand that they simply CANNOT allow others to have control over their pets and what I should have done was take my dog off that exam table and run like hell before that malpracticing vet could work her evil. And just like in the blog post – I was told by my attorney that my dog, while priceless, was in the eyes of the law, “worthless.”

Comment from Devin
Time January 24, 2016 at 1:46 pm

To the people representing Barking Hound Village. Way to blow your own case. Your job was to care for the dog. You killed the dog. You failed. Making, you, worthless.

Comment from Sarahkate
Time January 26, 2016 at 10:39 pm

Not sure you still are reading comments but here goes, this is new, being reported all over. In Colorado a family was awarded huge damages for the murder of their dog by a cop. It seems that, at least in Colorado, a dog is worth a very great deal. Read the story here: http://news.yahoo.com/whats-dog-worth-colorado-court-says-262-000-182103945.html

Comment from John Woestendiek
Time January 27, 2016 at 7:19 am

Of course I read all the comments. I reported on the Colorado case today. Contrary to the Yahoo News headline, the court didn’t say that’s what Chloe was worth, as the case was settled before trial. It’s progress, though. What really needs to be changed are the laws that define dogs as mere property.

Keep commenting.

John / ohmidog!

Comment from LisaZ
Time April 26, 2016 at 10:36 pm

Blue Pearl Vet hospital in Atlanta just killed my dog with inappropriate administration of propofol. She was NOT monitored for blood pressure, oxygenation, heart rate, nothing. She died like Michael Jackson died. Then had the audacity to lie about it. The drug should not be used in dogs with her history and dehydration. Look at Vet anesthesia guidelines. This is a national company yet have no protocols in place for sedation during endoscopy. ??? Wanted payment for the services right then. This vet has no accountability for his negligence. Dogs see for us,they detect bombs for our military, detect blood sugar problems yet are just as valuable as a used toaster??? So wrong. I want the world to see this negligence and its coverup by the administrator and its own medical director. I will share the anesthesia record with anyone!!!!