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In a unique lawsuit, Elena Zakharova is suing a Manhattan pet store for the pain and suffering experienced by her dog, Umka. Four months after she purchased the female Brussels Griffon, it developed a congenital joint disorder.
Umka is in pain every time she walks.
Though sad, pets are considered property under the law. Property can't seek damages for pain and suffering. What's the deal?
A lawyer for Elena Zakharova plans to present an argument based on animal abuse, according to CBS. Animals are more than mere property because it is a crime to abuse them. The law has thus recognized that animals feel pain and may suffer.
Breeders and sellers should therefore be liable for that pain in the same way they'd be liable for a child's slip and fall.
This argument assumes that the breeder negligently operates a puppy mill. And that the pet store owner encouraged that behavior when he knowingly purchased the animal.
Zakharova's is going to have a very tough time convincing the judge of this argument. Though the law recognizes that pets are living things, it has always considered them to be property. If legislators intended for animals to be placed on par with humans, they would have long since changed the law.
This is why Elena Zakharova has also brought a second claim in which she asserts that the pet store sold her a defective product. She spent $8,000 on veterinarian bills and $1,650 on Umka, according to the Huffington Post. At the very least, she'd like to be reimbursed.
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