I have been following the development of animal law in Illinois for several years. Check here and here for prior posts relating to damages for injuries to pets. This is very much an emerging area of law and one that has not received a whole lot of publicity, until now. Unless a settlement is reached quickly, there is the potential for a landmark case to come out of Arizona for the wrongful death of Target - a dog and national hero.
According to the NY Times, Target saved the lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan when it and two other dogs confronted a suicide bomber that had entered the barracks. The dogs barked and snarled until the man detonated his bomb. One of the dogs died in the blast. Five soldiers were injured, but none were killed. The two surviving dogs were flown back to the U.S. by a charity and adopted by military families. Target was adopted by an Army medic who witnessed the incident and treated the wounded soldiers.
Target returned to a hero's welcome. She was on the Oprah Winfrey Show. She had her own facebook page. She was on the news on every television network. Then she wandered from her family's back yard and was captured by County Animal Control. Animal Control put the dog's picture on their website in an attempt to notify the owner. The owner immediately saw the picture and paid the pound's recovery fee online. But before the owner could come pick up the dog, a staff member mistook Target for another dog and euthanized her.
The unidentified woman has been placed on administrative leave. The County has ordered an investigation. The County has also provided grief counselors to the family. Oh ya, and the family has already talked to a lawyer. Even if a lawsuit is never filed, this case has the potential to be one of the largest settlements ever for the wrongful death of a pet. I will be interested to see how this turns out. If anyone hears any news in the future, please share it with me.