No matter how much we love our pets, there’s always the chance they will run into a legal situation. Attorney David Aylor took time to answer questions from our readers in this edition of Ask a Lawyer.
QUESTION: While at an ag show last year, our family’s goat ate something that made him extremely sick. It happened overnight when we were not there. He survived, but it took $2,000 in medical bills to figure everything out. My discussions with the fair people are going nowhere. Any legal solutions you can suggest?
DAVID AYLOR: You should contact the State Livestock-Poultry Health Commission and inquire about the ag show operator’s surety bond, which could possibly cover the medical bills. Generally, the operator of a public livestock market must file with his application for a permit a $2,000 surety bond to secure the performance of all obligations incident to the operation of the livestock market. If you can show that the operator of the market did not perform his/her duties in operating the market consistent with the relevant rules and regulations, then the bond could be used to cover your damages.
QUESTION: My child was playing at a friend’s house and was bitten by their cat. His bite injury required extensive IV medications and multiple trips to the doctor. How do we approach the family for help with expenses? Are they legally bound to help pay?
DAVID AYLOR: Depending on your relationship with the cat owner, a letter or phone call requesting their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance information would be the best place to start. Generally, the animal owner is liable for the damages suffered by the person bitten or otherwise attacked. In most instances, the cat or animal owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, if available, will provide coverage for such an incident. Insurance coverage amounts can vary and policies can contain certain exclusions or limitations that may affect coverage, but, if there is insurance, it should cover your child’s medical bills and other damages.
QUESTION: Me and my ex-girlfriend both loved our black lab. But now she won’t give me my dog’s AKC papers (Jasper now lives with me). If I want to breed Jasper, I really need those papers. Any advice?
DAVID AYLOR: You could file a suit in small claims court to ask a judge to order that she return the AKC papers to you. You would most likely be required to establish ownership of the dog by presenting veterinary records, microchip records, pedigree registries, etc.
Another option would be to contact AKC and request duplicate documentation.