Family Seeks $206,000 Against Shelter for Mistakingly Euthanizing Dog

A Texas couple is suing the city of Denton, Texas for $206,000 for negligently euthanizing their dog. Shawn Snider and Beth Bayless-Snider are seeking recovery for loss of future breeding opportunities and emotional pain and suffering for the loss of their 3-year-old black Labrador, Amicus.

Animal control officers picked up Amicus after it escaped from their yard and left a notice for them to pick up the animal. They called the shelter and arranged to pick Amicus after payday so that they could afford the $109 recovery fee. While a notation was made, a worker did not see it and killed the dog.

Shawn Snider now insists that “They can’t bring my dog back, so the only thing they can do is give me money.”

The common law has always treated these animals as chattel so that they value is tied to the market price of a new animal. The true damages are found in pain and suffering, infliction of emotional distress, and breeding value — all costs associated with the owners rather than the inherent value of the dog.

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7 thoughts on “Family Seeks $206,000 Against Shelter for Mistakingly Euthanizing Dog”

  1. I read the source article. It clearly explained that after four days the dog could be “destroyed” or put out for adoption. It was a 3 year old Lab, which are sought out by many different kinds of owners. Frankly, I think the shelter is probably on “auto-pilot” if they killed this sort of pup so soon after he was brought in, and if it is possible for such an important note to be “ignored” or “unseen”.

    How expensive would it be to buy some bright red paper product, tape, or use other method to clearly designate that an animal was going to be picked up? Not a “note” in a plastic sleeve, but something large and bright that cannot be ignored, and a system of redundancy – double-checking each evening before close that every animal on hold has a visual flag on its cage.

    This begs all sorts of questions about how the shelter is run, and about their relationship with the public.

    Working in a shelter is a very draining job, and there is little professional training and help to prevent burn-out. Because some people are so irresponsible with animals, some workers develop a hardened mentality towards the public, and worse – towards the animals. My family can speak to this personally, as we’ve taken in several stray cats, fostered other cats and worked with a sympathetic small-town animal control officer to get a few other stray cats adopted.

    Along the way, we’ve met many people working in animal welfare who are judgmental, suspicious, unprofessional, or have unrealistic standards for pet ownership — the stink several months ago regarding Ellen deGeneres’ dog comes to mind. When my husband was still in the military, a woman in a small city in Oregon, where we were based, told me to my face that they didn’t like to adopt animals to people in his section of the armed forces – though another one of the armed forces was “OK”. Is that insane or what? That’s like saying, “I won’t adopt an animal out to someone’s who Asian-American or gay.” But, again – it’s a stressful job and there are relatively few professionally run groups. During Katrina, you had shelters knowingly colluding to adopt out refugee animals, even as their owners were searching for them. So, I think this story is really just the tip of the iceberg.

  2. Vets allow payment plans or offer free care. I’m with rafflaw also.

  3. Sorry but I am a dog lover and I live pay check to pay check after bills and groceries if my dog was to get out of my yard and picked up by the pound tomorrow I wouldn’t have the money to get her out either till my pay day so criticising on them for that is unfair and unjust. Not everyone makes tons of money and they have to live on strict budgets so this would be an unforseen expense.

    I think that they are wanting people to pay attention I don’t really think it’s about the money it’s what gets peoples attention tho money sad that if this story was about the dog being killed and no money was talked about then everyone would be just oh poor folks oh well but because money was mentioned people are less sypathetic and more critical and that is just very sad!

  4. I agree with Rafflaw it is a major flaw in the managment of the shelter and this was probably a highly adoptable dog (especially since it sounds like it was a purebreed, people beg for lab’s from breeders). But I also think it is a shame that they are suing for so much money. If they win the shelter will likely be shut down and there will be no place for the animals that need their help to go. The city should step in and work on better management practices (I bet there is an animal loving consultant in town who would offer their services).

    On a side note, if you have to wait till payday to pay to get your dog out of a shelter for $109 you might have the means to care for the dog either, that $ amount is not even a vet bill.

  5. Well if it’s an intentional act of property destruction, is the City liable for punitive damages and attorney’s fees? Some states allow this type of relief in abrogation of sovereign immunity.

  6. That was a pretty big mistake on the shelter’s part. First of all, screwing up their internal procedures to allow the dog to be killed is a stupid error. Secondly, why did the dog have to be killed anyway? A 3 year old Lab in good health would have been a great candidate for adoption. I am not sure the $200,000 is the right price, but as a dog owner, I would have been devastated to lose the dog due to incompetence. Very sad.

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