Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How Much Is That Dead Dog Worth?

Yesterday, lawyers at the Georgia Supreme Court debated whether the law should value a family dog more like a mule or more like an heirloom painting.

Bob and Elizabeth Monyak's 8-year-old dachshund, Lola, died of kidney failure in 2013. The family accuses the Barking Hound Village kennel in the Atlanta area of giving the dog the wrong medicine, which ultimately killed Lola.

Officials at the kennel deny they did anything wrong. But they also argue that pets are property, and because the Monyaks paid nothing for Lola when they rescued her from a shelter, the dog essentially had no value.

Good luck with that train of thought, and kiss the rest of your business goodbye, Barking Hound Village kennel!

The Monyaks say they spent $67,000 on veterinary and related expenses, including regular dialysis treatments, trying to keep their dog alive, and their suit seeks to recover that sum. But the Monyaks also say Lola’s market value isn’t the point.

“Their position is that a dog is like a toaster,” Elizabeth Monyak said. “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.”

Both Monyak and her husband are attorneys; she works for the state attorney general’s office, and he specializes in defending medical malpractice and product liability lawsuits, and will argue Lola’s case before the justices on Tuesday.

In court documents, Barking Hound Village wrote, "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."

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