Georgia Supreme Court decides the 'value' of a dog

ATLANTA — Georgia's highest court ruled Monday that the value of a pet injured or killed by someone else's negligence is the animal's fair market value, but the owners can also try to collect costs incurred trying to save the animal.

Robert and Elizabeth Monyak sued Barking Hound Village kennel and its manager, claiming negligence, fraud and deceit in the death of their dog.

The Monyaks boarded their two dogs: Lola, an 8-year-old dachshund mix, and Callie, a 13-year-old mixed Labrador retriever, at Barking Hound Village for 10 days in May 2012.

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The Monyaks said kennel staff gave Lola medication intended for Callie, which they said caused kidney failure that led to her death nine months later.

“Their position was that we could spend no money at all to try to save her,” Elizabeth said. “The court soundly rejected that and said that all veterinary expenses are recoverable damages that we can seek, that a jury can award us.”

And with the state Supreme Court's decision, the Monyaks will prepare for trial to try to recover about $67,000 in vet and travel expenses for treatment to save the life of Lola.

“Her kidneys never fully healed, and so she ultimately did pass away from the kidney damage caused by BH (Barking Hound Village) having poisoned her,” Elizabeth said.

The Monyaks had Lola and Callie boarded for just under two weeks.

They said Callie needed arthritis medicine, but Lola got it instead.

The state's highest court's 10-page decision helps to put a value on a family pet beyond what one paid for it.

“Rejected the view that if you don't happen to pay for your dog, you are not entitled to recover anything,” Robert said.

The Monyaks suspect they're not the only family who has been harmed this way.

“We suspect just like we weren't told when they made a medication error, these other people may not have been told either,” Elizabeth said.

They hope others will come forward and fight for their family members too.

“We also hope that the fact that there is legal recourse will encourage people who are entrusted dogs to be careful,” Elizabeth said.