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Monday, 23 October 2017

MFOA Testimony in Support of L.D. 395
Written by MFOA   
Wednesday, 20 March 2013

TESTIMONY
Maine Friends of Animals

IN SUPPORT of L.D. 395 "An Act To Allow a Pet Owner To Collect Noneconomic Damages for the Death of a Pet"

COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY

Senator Valentino, Representative Priest, and distinguished members of the Committee: 

LD 395 provides a path of recourse for pet owners that have lost the companionship of a beloved pet due to negligence or to an unlawful, intentional act. 

Most pet owners view their pets not as property, but as family members that provide unconditional love.  As they would with human children, pet owners invest emotionally and financially in their pets' well being - providing love, food, medical care, grooming, exercise and education/training.  In return. pets provide unique benefits to their guardians, such as companionship, stress relief, laughter and security.  As a result, to many, the loss of a pet can be as emotionally devastating as the loss of a human family member.

LD 395 recognizes the special bond that exists between human and companion animal - a bond with a value not measurable in the same way as the value of typical property or an inanimate object.   The benefits provided to us by our pets are noneconomic and not calculable in a typical "market value" equation.   Consequently, the loss of a companion animal should not be viewed under the law as just the loss of property.

Although having the option to pursue restitution for the wrongful death of a pet (under specified conditions) will not bring the pet back, or completely heal the emotional damage caused by its death, this bill would provide resources for the pet guardian to partially mend the void left by the tragic loss of a devoted companion. 

Perhaps equally as important, the financial repercussions provided by LD 395 would serve as an additional deterrent to Maine citizens against acts of negligence concerning pets (i.e.,allowing aggressive dogs running at large) which in turn, would create a safer environment for both humans and companion animals in Maine. 

Despite existing leash laws and dangerous dog laws, many Maine residents continue to allow their dogs (and cats) to roam freely/at large - which often leads to the negligent injury and sometimes death of pets while the pet is on its own property or in the direct care of its owner.  Provided on the following page are a just few examples of companion animals that have died as result of dangerous dogs running at large. 

02/2013: Union, ME  - Collin - 1 year old Border Collie killed on his own property by two dogs at large.

Collin was a 1 year old Border collie that went missing in February 2013. Shortly after Collin's family noticed he was gone; they saw two dogs that belong to a neighbor in Collin's yard. Both dogs were covered in blood. Collin's body was found shortly thereafter in the family's horse paddock.  Collin was a beloved member of his family - killed on his own property - by two dogs that were at large.   The current dangerous dog and dog-at-large laws will not provide Collin's family with the reparations they deserve for this tragic experience.

04/2010: York, ME - Papi - 3 year old Chihuahua killed while being walked on leash by a dog at large.

Papi, a 3 year old Chihuahua was out for a leash walk with his owner when he was attacked by a 90 lb dog that was running at large.  The loose dog's owner saw the attack and tried to make his dog release Papi.  Unfortunately, by the time Papi was freed from the larger dog's mouth, it was too late.  Papi died from internal injuries.  The owner of the dog at large was brought up on dangerous dog charges, however, those charges did not help Papi's owner to recover from her horrific loss.
Dog cited as dangerous after neighbor's pet killed. Seacoast Online 4/21/2010
http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20100421-NEWS-4210322

08/2007: Dover Foxcroft - Persephone - 6 year old cat killed  on front porch by two dogs at large.

Persephone, a 6 year old cat was killed on her front porch by two dogs that had escaped from their outdoor kennel due to an unlatched gate.  Persephone's owner was home, but was charged by one of the dogs when he went outside.  The dog's owner was charged with keeping a dangerous dog, having dogs at large and made to pay an insignificant $250 fine.
Dog owners to pay fine for killing of cat, Bangor Daily News 8/21/2007
http://archive.bangordailynews.com/2007/08/21/dog-owners-to-pay-fine-for-killing-of-cat/?ref=search

In conclusion, by passing LD 395, you will give a voice to pet owners that have suffered a tragic loss of  companionship through an intentional unlawful act or negligence.  You will also give Maine residents another reason to stop to think before participating in either an intentional illegal act or an irresponsible act that  negatively impacts a companion animal and its owner.

For the above reasons, please vote "ought to pass" L.D. 395.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Maine Friends of Animals

 
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