NBC 5 Responds: What Rights Do Pet Owners Have Should Their Pet Die While in Care of Someone Else?

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A Utah family is angry and heartbroken after their dog was hit by a car while in the care of a North Texas veterinary boarding facility. The family believes it was an accident but wanted more answers so asked NBC 5 Responds for help.

The Raines family loved their dog Lola, a one and a half-year-old, Maltese Shih Tzu Poodle.

“We've had her since she was a puppy and she was just a part of our family,” said Michael Raines.

“She was actually my daughter's dog,” said Raines. “Chloe, who's 13, slept with her every night. She just did everything with us.”

This summer, the family took a road trip from Utah to meet relatives in Aubrey, Texas.

“We took an RV trip, a two-week road trip with our family, our four kids and our two dogs,” said Raines.

From there, the Raines’ headed up to Broken Bow, Oklahoma and decided to board their dogs at Hooves and Paws Vet Hospital in Aubrey.

“It's a really nice facility,” recalled Raines.

On day two of their trip, they received a call from the vet about Lola.

“It was Dr. Spencer on the phone saying that there'd been an accident. I started to get emotional and angry and upset. I said, what kind of accident? And he said, well, Lola slipped through the fence. We chased her for about a quarter of a mile. She went out into the road and was hit and killed,” Raines explained.

They cut the trip short and headed back to Texas.

“It was just terrible. I mean, terrible, tragic. Just hurt. Very, very shocking to get that kind of a phone call,” said Raines.

Before heading back to Utah, the Raines said Dr. Brett Spencer asked how to make things right.

“When he says what can he do to help us? You know, we thought, ok, well, he can at least get us monetarily whole back to having been able to get a new puppy for the kids,” said Raines. “He did make us a financial offer that we thought wasn't sufficient.”

Dr. Spencer declined an on-camera invitation from NBC 5 but did share a written statement that said, “The family at Hooves & Paws is deeply saddened by the loss of Lola Raines-a sweet kind and beautiful puppy dog owned and grieved for by the family. Hooves & Paws overwhelmingly cares about each and every animal which is entrusted to us. We have a loving, compassionate and long term relationship with many of the pets and families that visit our facility. Our staff is comprised of loving and compassionate individuals. The incident involving Lola Raines was felt deeply by all. We are excited to share that the Raines’ family now has a new puppy to fill the void left by the loss of Lola.”   

“You'd be surprised at how often this happens,” said Randy Turner, a Fort Worth-based animal rights attorney.

While not associated with this case, he said the law isn’t on the side of pet owners.

“Unfortunately, dogs are considered property - the same as inanimate objects. A dog is no different than a bicycle or a mattress or a toaster,” said Turner.

Turner said, in general, the most money an owner could receive if they win a lawsuit, is the fair market value of the pet right before the animal was killed.

“If they're like me and they have a nine-year-old mixed-breed dog that doesn't have any market value. I could literally file a lawsuit, go through all the litigation and then win and get zero,” said Turner.

The Raines family worked with the facility’s insurance company to recovery out-of-pocket costs and recently got a new dog.  But said there’s no replacing their Lola.

Kennels and boarding facilities are not regulated here in Texas. NBC 5 Responds did check with the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and found no violations against Hooves and Paws.

NBC 5 Responds is committed to researching your concerns and recovering your money. Our goal is to get you answers and, if possible, solutions and a resolution. Call us at 844-5RESPND (844-573-7763) or fill out our customer complaint form.

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