How much is your dog worth? Not just what you paid for him, what is he truly worth? That is the unenviable question that the Georgia Supreme Court has to answer after hearing a case yesterday brought by an Atlanta family seeking damages against an upscale kennel for the death of their 8-year-old dog, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
In 2012, Elizabeth and Bob Monyak boarded their 8-year-old mixed breed Dachshund, Lola, and their Labrador Retriever, Callie, at the Barking Hound Village, which has several locations in the metro-Atlanta area. The dogs were at the facility for 12 days and, according to the Monyaks, the staff at the Village mistakenly gave Callie’s arthritis medication to Lola.
The Monyaks picked their dogs up and, just days later, Lola had stopped eating, was vomiting and in severe pain. The family’s veterinarian reportedly said that Lola was suffering from kidney failure, possibly due to an overdose from Remadyl, the medication that had been prescribed for Callie. She was transferred to a clinic in Florida, where she received several dialysis treatments before her kidneys stopped responding. The Moyaks said they spent $67,000 on veterinary care for Lola, but it wasn’t enough. She died in March 2013.
The Monyaks have sued Barking Hound Village for damages, including the recovery of all of Lola’s medical expenses. The kennel has denied any wrongdoing, and its lawyers have also said that a dog’s owners should not be able to claim more than the market value of a pet, because pets are purely property. The kennel has argued that, as a rescue dog that the Monyaks did not pay for, Lola has no real value.
“Their position is that a dog is like a toaster,” Elizabeth Monyak told the paper in an earlier report. “When you break it, you throw it away and get a new one. A dog is indeed property under the law, but it’s a different kind of property.”
A University of Georgia law school professor has spoken out on behalf of the Monyaks, suggesting that pets have the same kind of value as an heirloom or family photo.
“I assume [the Monyaks] paid a substantial amount of money to the kennel to take care of their dog,” Michael Wells told the paper. “To then say the dog has no market value doesn’t seem to square with the commitment the kennel made and the money it made from the transaction itself.”
In a filing, the lawyers for Barking Hound said that Lola had “no special training or unique characteristics other than that of ‘family dog.'” Right. And how do you put a price on that?
The court is expected to release a decision in four to six months.