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California woman sues for wrongful death - of dog

Most pet owners consider their beloved cat, dog, or other animal to be a member of the family, much more than just a belonging or a piece of property. As such, we would do anything to protect our pets, and the mere thought of them being harmed or feeling any pain is difficult to take.

So many of us would likely sympathize with a California woman who recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a pet store, who she claims is responsible for her dog's death. In her suit, the plaintiff alleges that the store's negligent use of cage dryer devices during a grooming appointment caused her dog to suffer heatstroke and die.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff brought Sadie, her six-year-old Lhasa Apso, to a Petco location in Fair Oaks for a routine haircut. When she entered the grooming facility, Sadie was in good health. However, a few hours later, she was dead. A Petco employee later told the plaintiff that her dog had first exhibited signs of illness while in the cage dryer, a controversial machine that blows heat and air on wet dogs while they are confined in a kennel. A veterinarian later confirmed that Sadie died of "severe respiratory distress" caused by heatstroke.

Cage dryers have been the subject of debate among pet owners for years, with many claiming that they are unsafe and dangerous for dogs. In her lawsuit, the plaintiff says that she was allowed to inspect the cage dryer in which Sadie had become ill, and that there were scratch marks and blood on the inside of the kennel.

Originally, the plaintiff only asked that Petco discontinue use of the cage dryers in its grooming facilities. The retailer would not agree to that stipulation, so the plaintiff filed the wrongful death lawsuit. "I want Petco to stop using these machines, or at least post warnings to customers about them," the plaintiff said. "This, for me, has been devastating. I don't want it to happen to anyone else."

What do you think? Should animal owners be able to file wrongful death suits on behalf of their pets?

Source: Sacramento Bee, "Dog's death raises question about pet grooming dryer," Cynthia Hubert, July 27, 2011

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