All dogs may go to heaven, but lawsuit seeks to prove they have souls too
By Beth Stebner Last updated at 10:41 PM on 4th January 2012
Dogs are people too, one Manhattan pet owner seeks to prove. In the first lawsuit of its kind, New York City pet owner Elena Zakharova is seeking damages from an Upper East Side pet store for pain and suffering endured by her four-legged friend – a Brussels Griffon puppy named Umka. Dogs are considered property under state law, but Ms Zakharova is asking the courts to see little Umka as a ‘living soul’ who has undergone pain and suffering due to birth defects.
She says Raising Rover, the boutique pet store from which she bought Umka, should be liable for the puppy’s pain. Umka, Ms Zakharova says, suffers from bad knees and trick hips and was diagnosed in July.
The boutique pet store has a history of selling dogs bred in Midwestern puppy mills, the Humane Society said. According to court papers, the two-month-old pup’s medical bills already total more than $2,000, and her owner says she’ll need more surgery in the future
The action seeks money from Raising Rover for the dog’s escalating medical bills as well as an unspecified amount for pain and suffering, the New York Post reports. Ms Zakharova’s suit says the pet store failed to provide her with information about the dog’s breeder, or that it’s probable Umka came from a puppy mill. Ms Zakharova’s lawyer Susan Chana Lask told the New York Daily News that pets should be considered ‘living souls’ and not property.
‘Umka feels love and pain like any human being whose pain and suffering would be recognised in a court.’ New York State has a ‘Puppy Lemon Law’ which allows owners to return sickly or ailing dogs within a two-week period. Ms Zakharova bought Umka in February. However, Ms Lask said that the $1,650 puppy didn’t manifest its symptoms for several months. She says Umka will never be able to walk properly.
Raising Rover owner Ben Logan told the Daily News that the store is under new management and that he is careful about where he buys his puppies. ‘I know nothing about the sale. The prior owner has all the records,’ he said. Puppy mills are commercial kennels which breed large litters of puppies under questionable, often substandard conditions. Frequently, pets purchased from puppy mills suffer genetic diseases and are sickly because of the poor environments in which they are bred.