Military Contractor Sues Over Death of 14 Dogs In Unventilated Truck

There is an interesting lawsuit filed by a military contractor, American K-9 Detection Services, against Indian Creek Enterprises Inc. and Live Animal Transportation Services for the death of 14 bomb-sniffing dogs being shipped to Afghanistan.

The dogs died at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport on Dec. 21, 2010 after being kept in a sealed, unventilated truck.

Helping the negligence claim is a certification by a veterinarian that the dogs were in good health when delivered. When the dogs could not be put on a flight, the company was assured that they would be boarded in the terminal’s kennel and warehouse overnight. When the company employees, however, arrived the next morning, they found the dogs dead and blood on the cages — a sign that they had struggled to get out of their cages.

A standard problem for pet owners is that pets are often valued for their market rather than their personal value. In the case of these dogs, the market value would include intensive training and breeding. However, as a business enterprise, the company would not likely secure the alternative form of damages — emotional distress of the owner. The latter form of damages is often the greatest form of relief in such cases.

The status of pets or animals as a form of chattel or property is often a barrier to recovery — and adds insult to injury for victims. For example in the Gluckman case (GluckmanVAA1994) a New York court followed an earlier ruling that “New York law does not permit recovery for mental suffering and emotional disturbance as an element of damages for loss of a passenger’s property.” Unfortunately, that status of pets as chattel could reduce the incentive for airlines in taking greater levels of protection for the animals.

Source: MSNBC

12 thoughts on “Military Contractor Sues Over Death of 14 Dogs In Unventilated Truck”

  1. These are not pets. They’re trained (at great expense) hunters. The award could be substantial, considering the replacement value.

  2. Well given the fact that killing a rabbit was considered animal cruelty, this should be no problem for criminally charging the company with animal cruelty. I am sure that a guilty verdict and prison time will certainly improve the performance of employees charged with transporting animals.


    it was an accident, they did not purposefully try to kill those animals. They make their living transporting animals.

    If the company had a good track record up to that point, what value is there in suing them to the point of bankruptcy? How many people would be put out of business?

    Certainly the K-9 company is due the cost of the dogs and the cost of training and any lost income from the dogs until new ones are available but I am not sure punitive damages are warranted.

    A dog is not a human being.

  4. Bron, How callous! Considering the distress suffered by the animal suggests that a more appropriate amount would be more than what it costs for a new dog. One reason for high settlements is as a deterrent for the perpetrator. It’s ok that you don’t want money for yourself but consider suing for more, lots more, and donating the money to an animal rescue facility.

  5. I love my dog, and would be pissed if someone’s negligence caused his death but I would only ask for the cost of a new dog and for money I had spent on the dog in the past couple of years.

    You can always get a new dog.

    I think humans attribute to animals what they [animals] do not poses. I think there is some anthropomorphic projection going on in relation to pets.

  6. In many jurisdictions punitive damages are available in cases of gross negligence. The judiciary has the power to determine that a bailee shall be presumed to have acted with gross negligence in a death of an animal. The bailee will have the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he acted in a reasonable manner.

  7. “The status of pets or animals as a form of chattel or property is often a barrier to recovery — and adds insult to injury for victims.”


    This has always struck me as odd and at odds with reality. There are no societies for the prevention of cruelty to scooters. We have no brick cruelty laws in all states. Animals enjoy protection by society and legislatures throughout the country, but the courts refuse to change the common law definition of animals as chattel. I think a more enlightened court might change that some day but for now we’re stuck with the cold, dead , hand of the past overruling modern sensibilities and our current reality that we value animals far more than we value lifeless chattel.

  8. Wow…. Maybe the coyotes got confused…about what they were transporting…

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