Driver Runs Over And Kills Marine’s Therapy Dog, Then Sues For Damages

Dog owner was working off leash with his dog when the dog gave chase to a deer and got hit by a car.

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Retired Marine Col. Ken Herrington and his dog, Dakota Rambo Higgins in happier times. Via Ken Herrington/Courier-Journal
John Virata

Imagine you are training your dog off leash and he sees a deer and takes off running into the street where he unfortunately gets hit by a car. Imagine the person who hit your dog helping you load your dying best friend into your car so you can rush him to the veterinarian. Now imagine a few months later receiving a bill for the damages allegedly done to the car that hit and killed your dog.

That is the ordeal that retired Marine Col. Ken Herrington, of Louisville, Kentucky, has gone through when his German Shepherd therapy dog, Dakota Rambo Higgins, ran into the street October 29, 2015, and got hit by a car driven by Maggie Cassaro, according to the Courier-Journal.

Nine weeks after the accident that killed his dog, Herrington received a letter from Cassaro demanding that he pay $910.60 for damages to the car’s bumper and side panel, allegedly caused by Dakota when he ran into the street and got hit by the Honda Accord Cassaro was driving.

Dakota Rambo Higgins was hit by a car and died. Via Ken Herrington/Courier-Journal

Dakota Rambo Higgins was hit by a car and died while off leash. Via Ken Herrington/Courier-Journal

“I thought it was heartless,” Herrington told the Courier-Journal. He described Dakota Rambo Higgins as his “therapy dog, best friend and the son I never had.”

“There was no mention of how the dog was doing.”

Herrington ignored the letter, but then received another letter from an attorney stating that legal action would be taken unless he paid the amount Cassaro demanded. He has refused, writing back to the attorney that “this is like shooting and killing a child, then sending a bill for the bullets.”

Cassaro filed suit September 26 with the small claims division of Jefferson District Court, and she just may have the law on her side. According to the Courier-Journal, chapter 91 of the Louisville Metro ordinances states that “all animals, excluding community cats, shall be kept under restraint at all times” and that “any person owning, controlling, or having care or custody of any animal shall be liable for… any damage caused by such animal to public or private property.”

In response to the suit, Herrington filed papers in court stating that there were no skid marks on the street where she hit his dog, he didn’t see any damage to the the car and she didn’t mention any at the time, and that she never filed a police report. Herrington also filed a suit of his own, seeking $500 for the cost of his “therapy dog and best friend.”

“I cannot recover the cost of 900 hours of training, the close personal attachment and love that he provided,” he also wrote in his suit.

According to the Courier-Journal, Cassaro has blamed the death of Dakota Rambo Higgins squarely on Herrington, claiming he is the one who failed to restrain his dog, and he should be grateful that his dog didn’t cause a a more serious accident.

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