Texas court asks: Is man's best friend priceless?

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 11, 2013 at 2:14 am •  Published: January 11, 2013
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John Cayce, an attorney for the shelter worker named in the lawsuit, argued that a victory for the Medlens would result in skyrocketing insurance premiums for veterinarians terrified of being sued.

He also said that sentient beings aren't like any other irreplaceable family memorabilia.

"Humans don't bond to heirlooms," Cayce said. "They bond to pets."

The Medlen family did not attend the hearing. Their dog was mistakenly euthanized in 2009 despite the shelter placing a hold tag on Avery after the family came to claim her at the shelter, but was unable to immediately pay an $80 fee to get her back. When the family returned with the cash, they learned Avery had been put down.

Turner said the Medlens remain so brokenhearted they have yet to adopt another dog. He added that the family isn't actually trying to collect money, but merely trying to change the law so that "Avery didn't die in vain."

Cayce said Texas is already more generous than most states when it comes to compensating owners who lose dogs that have marketable value, such as a prize-winning pedigree show dog or a stunt dog whose owners invested thousands of dollars in training.

Justice Phil Johnson said changing the law might motivate owners to downplay their dog's actual worth so they could collect more on sentimental value instead.

"They're going to try to prove this is a worthless dog so that I can get a lot of money," he said.

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Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber

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