Should Every Dog Get Its Day in Court?
Lawsuit names dog as the plaintiff
seeking damages for emotional distress.

Houston – In a novel lawsuit filed by the “pet guardians” of a golden retriever, an Ohio court is being asked to expand the legal status of dogs to allow the animals to sue in court. Currently, state law considers dogs to be the personal property of their owners, which technically prevents them from being named as plaintiffs in lawsuits.

The lawsuit seeks damages exceeding $25,000 for the emotional distress allegedly suffered by the owners’ dog, Boomer, when it was injured by an invisible electrical fence. Boomer is named as the plaintiff in the suit filed against the Invisible Fence Co. of Dayton.

“The notion that every dog has its day, in court, has limitations,” said Jon Opelt, Houston director of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. “Dogs can’t testify and they certainly can’t be cross-examined. How a dog would hire an attorney is beyond me,” he said.

The dog owners, Andrew and Alyce Pacher of Vandalia, Ohio, claim the electrical fence in their backyard did not work properly, as Boomer had escaped several times in the past. The dog wears a collar that is supposed to shock it when it wanders beyond the fence. The lawsuit claims that Boomer suffered burns when he tried to run through the invisible fence.

Boomer’s lawyer, Paul Leonard, says the lawsuit asks the court to allow animals to have legal representation in court. Leonard runs the Center for Animal Law and Advocacy, a group that works to expand the legal rights of animals.

“One can sue for harm to their pet,” said Opelt, “but I’ll be doggone if a pet can initiate a lawsuit on its own,” he said.

“Allowing dogs to sue would unleash a flurry of frivolous lawsuits,” Opelt said.

Click here to read the story from the Associated Press

Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

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