Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vermont. Dog Shooting. Scheele vs. Dustin. It's more than just Property.

I love Vermont. It's God's little green acre, picturesque both in Summer and Winter. My wife and I made all sorts of excuses just to come up to Vermont to see our son who, back in 1999, was a freshman at Middlebury College. Well, he transferred to a school in England after another year but those two years were enough for us to enjoy the natural beauty of the state. We haven't been back since 2001. At the present time, amidst Vermont's bucolic splendor, a case is pending in the state supreme court regarding emotional distress and the value of a pet's life in our own lives.

Is it sufficient compensation when the man who shot your dog is ordered to do 100 hours of community service, a year's probation, pay for vet bills and cremation ($4000) resulting from his harmful and criminal act? According to Denis and Sarah Scheele of Annapolis, that isn't enough.

The culprit is 76-yr old Lewis Dustin ( Vine Street, Northfield, Vermont ) who shot the Scheele's dog, Shadow, with an air gun when it wandered into Dustin's lawn. The Scheeles were visiting relatives in Vermont. This stupid, old man pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges after claiming he didn't mean to kill the dog, that he meant to shoot its rear end and not its heart. Well, why don't we just forget it then! It's all perfectly acceptable. Dustin only meant to shoot the dog in the ass! A little scratch here and there and things should be alright. I get it now; I get it.

The Scheeles argued that the loss of a companion pet like Shadow isn't like losing inanimate personal property. True, dogs love us back unlike cars, furniture, clothes, or television sets. Animals are sentient beings, and they react very much like us in terms of fear, pain, happiness, loneliness, expectation, and gratitude. The pain of losing a loved one, including an animal, is more than the loss of chattel property. When someone kills our pet, we've lost a personal relationship, a partner in life, and their premature departure ushers in a period, sometimes years-long, of depression and agony. This is the gist of the Scheeles' lawsuit. In my book, that's murder. No decision is expected until after Spring of 2010.

1 comment:

Cate said...

Closing arguments by George Graham Vest in a trial where damages were sought for the killing of a dog named Old Drum in 1855.

'Eulogy on the Dog'

Gentlemen of the jury: The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it the most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.

A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death.