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For the Love of the Dog

Driver Sues Owners of Dog He Hit and Killed

On January 4, Jeffrey Ely hit and killed little Fester, a 13 lb. miniature pincher near Cloquet, MN and now he’s suing the owners of the tiny dog for $1,100 for the damage done to his vehicle and the time he missed at work getting the vehicle fixed.

Pieces of the bumper were propelled into the radiator when it hit the dog, Ely said, necessitating a replacement. Ely maintains he didn’t have problems driving until after the accident and that the radiator issues were not pre-existing.

Ely says he’s sorry for the owners loss but feels they have to be responsible for the damages to his 1997 Honda Civic, the time he lost from two jobs to fix his car and court fees. He’s a dog owner himself.

“I have complete compassion for them,” Ely said. “I know how it feels. I love dogs. But once you get them, they are your responsibility.”

Nikki Munthe, Fester’s owner, says she’s always been worried about the busy road and would have never let Fester off-leash. Fester had seizures when he was a puppy due to some vaccinations he received and wound up brain damaged to a degree, hence the name , Fester.

The family has countersued Ely for $2,400 for the cost to buy Fester, the time they had to take off work for court appearances, and the cost of buying a dog to replace Fester.

The case will be heard in St. Louis County Court on Friday.

Now, I have to honestly say that I have very mixed feeling about this. I feel terrible for the loss of the dog. If I lost one of mine, I would be beyond heartbroken. We all know that accidents do happen and dogs get loose no matter how careful we are and even sadder, sometimes loose dogs get hit.

Looking at this from a legal point of view, dogs are the responsibility of their owners. Not knowing all the finer legal points or the whole story, it would seem to me that Ely has a case but I would hate to be the judge or on the jury is there is one.

Personally I would find it very hard to sue the owners of a dog if I, no matter how inadvertently, had hit and killed it. I guess it’s a matter of heart vs. wallet and whether we like it or not, we cannot discount monetary loss, especially when we’re all being hit so hard by today’s financial situation.

This is not an easy one. My heart says, “heartless bastard!” But there’s also a part of me that tries to be logical and see his point of view.

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