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Determine who will be the primary owner of the pet or pets.

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Identify a preferred veterinarian as well as any required medical treatments.

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Aspects of Michigan's Dog Law

Michigan's Dog Laws (which are not a whole lot different than other states)

Since I'm most familiar with Michigan law, I'll go into more detail about that - but most of these things can apply to almost every U.S. state and Canadian province.  A couple of states are a bit more progressive...Maine, Oregon, California to name a few, but generally dogs are "chattel" - a type of property akin to table lamps or TV sets.  There is no provision for their feeling pain, suffering, or any value beyond a vet bill or purchase price.  They are considered disposable and easily replaced.  There is no provision for a dog trained for a special service (such as a police dog or service dog).  There is no provision for dogs that provide income or do work for their owners (such as breeding dogs or herding dogs).  In the eyes of the law, Fluffy is easily replaced by Fluffy II.  There is no consideration for your love or emotional attachment to the dog, how much work or money went into to training the dog, or that it's a valued member of your family. It's just a table lamp in the eyes of the law. That was bad enough....

Then along came the Animal Rights crazies... .  Their agenda is to keep everyone from owning dogs altogether. They have the money (from all your donations thinking you are actually helping animals when you were not) to influence legislation.  Their agenda is to make it so miserable to own pets - it won't be worth the trouble.  Eventually because it becomes so difficult to own dogs (much less responsibly breed them), nobody does.  Dogs become an expensive commodity no one can afford.  Because over time no one will have them, the ability to care for them properly becomes lost.  They become status symbols.  They are not loved for who they are, but what they symbolize - money and status.  They no longer are parts of our family, but become either strays because no one can afford  them or are locked away in kennels to be admired by the rich but not played with.  A sad lonely life.

And the Veterinary Associations.. . Their agenda is not about protecting the animals - it's about protecting the veterinarians. They have the money to influence legislation so they do. Their agenda is to make it so miserable to file a complaint or lawsuit - it won't be worth the trouble. They'll answer your complaint letter with some feel-good response (if you're lucky) and that's all you'll get. You might even get a response that there is not enough "evidence" to look into it further even when you've provided every record, photos, and more. There will be no reprimand, nothing. The insurance companies are even worse - heartless, soul-less monsters who will do anything - including threaten and bully you - to get you to go away. I was even told they were disappointed Mulan didn't die or get put down - because they wouldn't have had to pay any claim (not that they will end up paying much of anything anyway).

So there needs to be a category somewhere between a table lamp and status symbol. Some states have proposed (and adopted) the terminology "sentient property" - which means it is still "property" but a special class with emotions and the ability to feel pain.  To take this even further, this "property" should have "intrinsic value". Attorneys learn in law school about the case of the heirloom brooch.  Yes, it's just a brooch, but it's unique and irreplaceable - possibly priceless so therefore has more value than mass-produced brooch on a rack at Walmart. It is not easily replaced. Our pets are not easily replaced either, and they have feelings and emotions. This is a start.  But there are other areas to address...

  • Owner responsibility
  • Public Education
  • Dogs in the service of humans
  • Breeding and Veterinary care
  • Rescue and Adoption
  • Legislation

So...if we don't want the Animal Rights nuts making our laws...who will?  The easy answer is dog clubs. Next to the animal rights people, people that show their dogs, do obedience with their dogs, hunt their dogs, or do other organized activities with their dogs and will be next in line to try and influence the legislature.  That's all fine and good, but how about the AVERAGE PET OWNER?  You.  Me. The guy with two labs next door or the lady with a menagerie of rescue cats.  You have to understand - people are going to influence the legislature to make laws that benefit THEM.  Show people will make laws that only protect show dogs!  You MUST get involved.  One of the reasons the law states that hunting dogs can run around loose without collars on, but your Malamute can't is because the hunting dog people have made it a point to get involved and tweak the laws to their advantage.  Their needs are not the same as the guy with two labs or people with sled dogs. We MUST get involved or laws will be made that will only benefit clubs and organizations, AR groups and legislatures - not the average pet owner. 

Right now there are laws being proposed all over the country that say if a dog attacks another dog it's vicious!  Yet, in general, my breed the Alaskan Malamute is "dog aggressive" to some extent (we are working on it, but it's still a trait we have to live with!).  With legislation like this, our Mals will be branded "dangerous" if they so much as growl at another dog.  Do we need this? NO.  Get involved!  A hunting dog guy doesn't CARE.  He's more worried about something else.  It's up to US to make our world safe and better for our pets.

Who is fighting this battle in Michigan?

Why be concerned?  In 2009 Humane Society of the United States appointed it's first state representative to Michigan and they can spend $100 million a year on their agenda.  PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) probably spends a lot too.  ProtectMIdogs has acquired a lobbyist to try and combat this, but it's not enough. 

What can we do as pet owners?

  • promote animal welfare
  • support responsible dog ownership
  • practice responsible and humane dog breeding and training
  • support freedom of choice in veterinary medicine
  • support legislation that protects the value and worth of our pets (sentient property or intrinsic value)
  • support pet friendly public policy
  • support pet friendly public officials
  • support changes in the 1919 dog law that protect our pets
  • become knowledgeable and educated about the legislative process

The 1919 Dog Law in a Nutshell

Unlike many other states, Michigan law doesn't take into account that times have changed and our pet dogs and cats are more like our children, family members and close friends than farm animals. They sleep in our beds and are to many, "furry children". We call ourselves "pet parents" and sometimes dress them in clothes. Most vets promote this close attachment to our animals, after all, it gets us to pay larger sums for new procedures to keep them healthy and the vet wealthy. Over the last century we have gone from a rural society to an urban one. The role our pets take in our lives has changed drastically - but the law in Michigan has not. Michigan law still regards our dogs and cats as "chattel" - (an article of movable personal property). Yes, like chickens or cattle or table lamps. Your "fur child" is basically livestock under Michigan Law. . One of the best concise descriptions I've seen of this law is that your $500 dog gets loose and kills a $3 chicken so the farmer shoots him.  Because of the 1919 dog law, the chicken has more rights and protections than your dog.  In other words, it's a law that was written originally with farmers and veterinarians in mind.  It was influenced and revised by lobbyists of those same veterinarians, farmers, sporting dog clubs, and police.  Never has there been any input regarding a PET OWNER's rights.  If you want to read the whole thing...the links are here  and here.

Laws regarding Veterinary Malpractice in Michigan

MSU has put the Michigan Dog Law of 1919 online here: www.animallaw.info/articles/arusfavrevetmalpractice.htm#h1

I was originally told that the only way to get damages from a bad vet is to sue in court with an expert witness...but that's not exactly true...

The Statute of Limitations

According to the Michigan Veterinary Association: Medical malpractice limitations: general 2, negligence 3, property damage 3, breech of contract 6 from the time the malpractice was discovered.

Veterinary Records

Ethically, the information within veterinary medical records is considered privileged and confidential. It must not be released except by court order or consent of the owner of the patient. Veterinarians are obligated to provide copies or summaries of medical records when requested by the client. Without the express permission of the practice owner, it is unethical for a veterinarian to remove, copy, or use the medical records or any part of any record. But they do "mysteriously disappear"....so be aware of that and have your attorney subpoena them early. I was pretty upset when I discovered the growth MSU was supposed to be saving in a jar for the lawsuit was destroyed without asking me first. Fortunately I had photos...but had that been the only evidence, it would have been destroyed.


Keep legally required vaccines up to date.  Even if you are even one day late with the vaccine, and your dog bites someone, your local Animal Control will control your dog’s fate. They can mandate in-house quarantine or in-shelter quarantine or even euthanasia — depending on where you live. Proof of  strong antibody titers is not a legal substiture for vaccination paperwork.  Most states require rabies vaccines to be given by a veterinarian. If you are concerned about over vaccinating, this is a good article about rabies vaccines.

Dogs in Custody Battles

"An animal is treated like a television set or any other piece of property," says Raiford Palmer, a family law lawyer with Sullivan, Taylor and Gumina in Wheaton. There's no such thing as pet visitation," adds Matthew A. Kirsh, a family law attorney who lives in Lombard, IL and works at Colky and Kirsh in Chicago. In child custody cases, Illinois judges are mandated to rule for whatever is in "the best interest of the child." There is no custody issue with pets, only ownership....the same is true in Michigan and almost every other state and province.

This too needs addressing as some persons are primary caretakers of the animals and there is a special bond because of this.  When divorce or custody battles loom, often the animal becomes caught in the tug of war and the primary caretaker or pet ends up losing.  More about animals in custody battles. 


Anti Cruelty Laws

Link to an indepth article about the Michigan Anti-Cruelty Laws

Municipal Dog Limit Enforcement

The following text outlines methods of inquiry and enforcement which may be used by local officials in attempts to enforce anti-dog ordinances in your community, and suggested techniques of response. These techniques are entirely legal and based upon the rights of citizens as stated by the U.S. Constitution.

Personal investigation:

If you are confronted with an official demanding to investigate your property, the following responses are recommended. If the person presents a badge, you should ask for:

His full name and phone number
His supervisor's full name and phone number
The agency he represents
His badge number
Why he is there to see you
Is there any complaint involved
Who made these complaints (he probably won't answer)
Whether he has a warrant for a search
Request a copy of that warrant (he probably won't have one)

  • Answer no questions, but ask that he send or deliver all questions in writing. You should write down the answers to all these questions as the conversation proceeds. A simple notebook will do the job.
  • If you feel that a search of your home will lead to a threatened confiscation of a dog or a criminal complaint, you should refuse entry to your home unless the sheriff or police are present with a search warrant. If he says that he can get one easily, then tell him to do so. Remain cool and polite. Call your attorney as soon as possible.
  • Remember: You do not have to let anyone into your house or on your property without a proper search warrant. Homeowners have prevailed in lawsuits precluding inspectors or law enforcement agents from such intrusions without a search warrant.
  • You should not be threatened with seizure without a court hearing or a court order. Obtain the names of all persons involved, including police officers. This may prevent seizure. Seizure of property without the due process of law is unconstitutional, and due process of law should include a court hearing in every action relating to such seizure. If the animal control officials or police seize a dog, they may not destroy the animal or harm it in any way until a judge has ruled that you are in violation and this can only occur after a full hearing.
  • Call your attorney at the time of threatened seizure and ask for help. Do not answer any questions from the police without legal advice. Do not offer any explanations regardless of what they may be (police and enforcement officials have a bad habit of misinterpreting such explanations!) Remember, everything can and probably will be used against you. Do not volunteer any dogs or other property. If you decide to decline speaking to them, you MUST say you are asserting your 5th Amendment rights to keep them.  This is new.


Cooperation will not usually allow you to avoid prosecution. Also remember that seizure of one of your dogs without court action, under protest, amounts to prosecution without trial. Anything you say or do in regard to the attempted seizure or inquiries may be used against you in a criminal or quasi-criminal action. Everything you say or do will probably be used against you. Write down everything that is said or done as it happens. These notes can be valuable evidence to defend yourself at a later time. Try to avoid anger and avoid violence at all cost. Try to obtain as much information as you can: the informers, enforcing officials, officers, etc...Require enforcing officials and officers to put everything into writing. They may not do it, but you can ask.

Dog owners and ethical breeders are increasingly being targeted. Disgruntled neighbors may retaliate against dog owners and many other reasons drive complaints, and anti-dog enforcement action, which many times may be conducted illegally.

Keeping your dog safe at dog shows

  • Never leave your dog unsupervised in a crate at the dog show;
  • Never allow anyone to feed your dog a treat unless you know them well;
  • When taking the dog out of the crate, shut the door of the crate;
  • When you are returning the dog to the crate, check the water bowl, remove any bedding in the crate and check it;
  • If you see anything or anyone suspicious, take pictures, go to the superintendent and report it/them -- the worst thing that can happen is you are over protective;
  • Do NOT allow anyone you do NOT know to hold a dog while you show another one;
  • If you have your dogs in a vehicle, be sure it is completely locked and the windows are lowered only enough to provide air flow;
  • Do NOT give out personal information such as phone or address to people inquiring about pups, etc. Your email is sufficient, or take THEIR phone number;
  • DO bring shot and ownership records to the show, and keep them with you;
  • Think twice about advertising that you have dogs on your vehicle plates or anywhere else on your vehicle.

What is Chattel?

Black's Law Dictionary 9th Ed:

"Chattel - Movable or transferable personal property; esp., a physical object capable of manual delivery and not the subject of real property . . . "Chattels are either personal or real, Personal, may be so called in two respects: One, because they belong immediately to the person of a Man, as a Bow, Horse, ect."" 

An item of Personal Property that is movable; it may be animate or inanimate.  So your pet is classified up there with table lamp, toaster, chair....

Tort Law

Definition: A body of rights, obligations, and remedies that is applied by courts in civil proceedings to provide relief for persons who have suffered harm from the wrongful acts of others. The person who sustains injury or suffers pecuniary damage as the result of tortious conduct is known as the plaintiff, and the person who is responsible for inflicting the injury and incurs liability for the damage is known as the defendant or tortfeasor. 

Most dog lawsuits, that don't involve criminal activity, are prosecuted this way.  While you can file a malpractice claim against a vet, it's usually cost prohibitive.  Human malpractice cases can net upwards of $100,000 but dog cases rarely make it that far (especially in Michigan due to the 1919 dog law).  So in that case, your only recourse is to file a "Tort" case.  There are small claims court cases, and larger cases filed in civil court where the damages must be at least $26,000. An expensive dog such as a show dog, seeing eye dog, service dog SHOULD meet this minimum - but once again thanks to the 1919 dog law - it is difficult to obtain anything more than vet bills or purchase price.  If the amount is low - under $5,000 you might be better off to sue in small claims court (Michigan). 

Three elements must be established in every tort action. The plaintiff must establish that the defendant was under a legal duty to act in a particular fashion. Second, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant breached this duty by failing to conform his or her behavior accordingly. Third, the plaintiff must prove that he suffered injury or loss as a direct result of the defendant's breach.

The law of torts is derived from various common-law principles and legislative enactments. Tort actions are not dependent upon an agreement between the parties to a lawsuit. Unlike criminal prosecutions, which are brought by the government, tort actions are brought by private citizens. Remedies for tortious acts include money damages and injunctions (court orders compelling or forbidding particular conduct). Tortfeasors are subject to neither fine nor incarceration in civil court.  They are often your only recourse when the prosecutor will not get involved (common in dog cases).  There is a low regard for dog cases in Michigan and that is reflected in that it's very difficult to get a prosecutor, attorney or anyone to take a dog case seriously - unless it's an attack on a human (ie: dog bite).

The word tort comes from the Latin term torquere, which means "twisted or wrong." The English Common Law recognized no separate legal action in tort. Instead, the British legal system afforded litigants two central avenues of redress: Trespass for direct injuries, and actions "on the case" for indirect injuries. Gradually, the common law recognized other civil actions, including Defamation, libel, and slander. The US adopted the English common law in the eighteenth century. 

The law of torts serves four objectives. First, it seeks to compensate victims for injuries suffered by the culpable action or inaction of others. Second, it seeks to shift the cost of such injuries to the person or persons who are legally responsible for inflicting them. Third, it seeks to discourage injurious, careless, and risky behavior in the future. Fourth, it seeks to vindicate legal rights and interests that have been compromised, diminished, or emasculated. In theory these objectives are served when tort liability is imposed on tortfeasors for intentional wrongdoing, Negligence, and ultrahazardous activities.

The Alternative of Res Ipsa Loquitur

"Sometimes the action of the veterinarian is so obviously wrong that an expert is not needed to show malpractice. A court may allow a jury to make a judgment based upon the "common knowledge" of the community, or may apply the concept of "res ipsa loquitur." For example, in one case the veterinarian operated on the wrong horse. (FN 49) In another a veterinarian left a needle in the neck of a horse and left the horse to do another task. The court stated, "moreover, where the very nature of the acts complained of bespeaks improper treatment and malpractice" a prima facie case may be established without the necessity of offering expert evidence to that effect. (FN 50) In both cases, the expert testimony of another veterinarian was not necessary for the jury to find a violation of the law. But, when the issue before the court concerned the application of anesthetics to an animal, the court did not allow res ipsa loquitur to apply, as the understanding of such issues are not in the common knowledge of a layman. (FN 51) While normally a common law concept, it can be authorized by statute. (FN 52) " I attempted to use this but it is such an obscure case that most lawyers have never heard of it in regard to animals. My first attorney insisted I needed an expert witness - beaucoup expensive - to prove malpractice - he was wrong. So I decided to file in civil court under Res Ipsa Loquitur since the vet isn't supposed to leave stuff in the dog after surgery - anyone can see that. Bringing your case as a tort in civil court is often more productive than attempting to prove malpractice if your vet did something so obviously wrong there was no excuse for it. I recall a recent event at another local vet whereby the vet amputated the WRONG leg on a dog. I don't know if they filed a suit against the vet, but cutting off the wrong leg might have been an opportunity to use this.

Administrative Action for Malpractice.

A person may file an action against a veterinarian with the state administrative licensing board that oversees veterinarians. You should ALWAYS do this when your pet has been harmed, as it protects his future patients, even though you will likely see no results. With all the evidence available: photos, documents, etc for Mulan's case it was dismissed for "lack of evidence" - why? Because the down side is that your vet will spend THOUSANDS paying to have the case dismissed. Veterinary egos are huge - so he'd rather pay $20,000 to an attorney to get his license back than to you for your beloved pet (and had he done that, you probably wouldn't have filed the complaint!). He doesn't want to lose his license for almost or killing your pet - so he'll pay whatever it takes to restore his good name and have it removed from the books. This happened to Mulan. The bureau of Licensing and Regulation in Michigan is a farce in Michigan. You will get no justice, so don't expect it. But file anyway - they need to know when vets don't take responsibility and kill or almost kill pets!


If the actions in question are not within the realm of malpractice, then there may be legal liability based on common negligence. For example, if a veterinarian was overseeing the loading of a horse into a trailer and did not properly secure the horse, the standard of care is that of negligence.

Gross negligence.

This is the more egregious form of a claim of negligence. If an animal came in for a treatment for fleas, and the veterinarian removed a leg, that would be gross negligence. A claim of gross negligence may support different kinds of damage awards, such as punitive damages or emotional distress for the owner - but try and get it. Mulan's case was one of gross negligence and I was told up front that I could never recover punitive damages or emotional distress even though the law supposedly stated I could. Thank you 1919 dog law - which states she's chattel and therefore a lamp. In human malpractice the doctors are held accountable for gross negligence - but not veterinarians. Actually, it becomes a marathon to just get the vet bill paid - the insurance companies and vets have done this much more than you, so know all the tricks to make sure you don't get a dime.

Intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress (on the owner).

This may arise when the actions (against an animal) are intentional and likely to produce a strong reaction in the owner. This is more in line with actual abuse and is typically tried in criminal court. I'm hoping that if your vet is THAT bad, you'll see it and won't be going there. If someone intentionally kills or maims your pet (dog fighting comes to mind, or intentional abuse) - you may be able to use this.

Duties of bailee.

When a veterinarian acts as a bailee of an animal (for example when he or she boards pets), then legal liability may arise either out of negligent care of the animal or failure to redeliver the animal to the owner. In one case, an insured veterinarian was bailee of an elephant, who died from poison while in his custody. While his negligence in allowing the animal near poison would normally give rise to liability, the bailor and bailee had signed a release which held the bailee "harmless from any liability in the event of the death of the elephant 'Sparkle.'" A claim based upon a bailment does not require an expert witness and may have the effect of placing the burden of proof upon the veterinarian to explain what happened to the animal.

Violation of a contract obligation.

This may be a useful approach if there is a written contract. However, oral agreements may also constitute a contract. The normal conversation with a veterinarian before rendering services would not constitute an oral contract. A contract claim can not be based on general statements of reassurance, "I'm sure Fluffy will be better after the operation." Rather, it must be a specific promise to do something or obtain a specific result. In a contracts action, the promise in the contract becomes the standard for conduct, not the general standard of veterinarian care appropriate to the community. There may be a difference in the statute of limitations for filing a contract action (longer) verse tort or malpractice action. My experience here is that to have a stronger case, the complaint portion about contract was set aside.

Deceptive trade practices.

However, professional services are often specifically excluded in the statutes that create the cause of action. This is unfortunate since we have vets in this state claiming to be "Reproductive Specialists" without any training or degrees to that effect. For example, if your vet advertises that he is a specialist, according to the College of Veterinary Theriogeneologists he must be a "Diplomat" - in other words - be CERTIFIED as one.  He just can't hang out a shingle and say that's what I am.  He must have special certification or is violation of his American Veterinary Association membership.  Unfortunately, the AVA and the MVA once again do not enforce their own rules.  He must study certain information, he must take tests showing competitence.  Dr. Schultz did neither, yet solicited show breeders and collected sperm, did artificial inseminations, specialized surgeries and procedures which required him to have this certification - yet he did not. In a nutshell, that's FRAUD. 


This may occur when the actions of an agent of the State result in the death of an animal. Only one case has been found to support such a cause of action. It first requires that the veterinarian be an employee of the State. Secondly, because of some state policy the injury to the animal occurred. I was told that had an MSU veterinarian caused the problem, I would have had no recourse to sue at all - because they are technically employed by the state of Michigan and suits of that type are almost impossible to move forward on because the liability is so limited and narrowly defined.

The statute of limitations according to the Michigan Veterinary Association: Medical malpractice limitations: general 2, negligence 3, property damage 3, breech of contract 6 from the time the malpractice was discovered.


Trespass to Chattels

Trespass to chattels is a tort whereby the infringing party has intentionally (or in Australia negligently) interfered with another person's lawful possession of a chattel (movable personal property). The interference can be any physical contact with the chattel in a quantifiable way, or any dispossession of the chattel (whether by taking it, destroying it, or barring the owner's access to it). As opposed to the greater wrong of conversion, trespass to chattels is argued to be actionable per se.

The origin of the concept comes from the original writ of trespass de bonis asportatis. As in most other forms of trespass, remedy can only be obtained once it is proven that there was direct interference regardless of damage being done, and the infringing party has failed to disprove either negligence or intent.

In some common law countries like the United States and Canada, a remedy for trespass to chattels can only be obtained if the direct interference was sufficiently substantial to amount to dispossession, or alternatively where there had been an injury proximately related to the chattel. So.....

1.)    Intentional interference with personal property
2.)    Resulting in impairment in condition, quality, or value
        Or deprive use for substantial time  
        Or bodily harm or harm to other protected interest

  • Intent-purpose (desire) or substantial certainty of prohibited result or consesquence will occur
  • Interference- Intermeddling without consent or authorization
  • Chattel of another- possession, don't have to own chattel
  • Personal property-(black's) any movable or intangible thing that is subject to ownership and not classified as real property. Examples include : pets, car, computer...etc

Liable for diminished value of the damage done upon the Chattel, plaintiff keeps the object only pay for what you damage.

Dog Bite Law

Michigan is a strict liability state and holds the owner of a dog strictly liable for dog bites to a human being that were not provoked, provided that if the incident happened upon the dog owner's property the victim was not a trespasser or there to do something unlawful or criminal. Liability also can be based upon scienter, negligence, negligence per se and other grounds such as battery.

The dog bite statute, Mich. Comp. Laws Ann., sec. 287.351, is as follows:

287.351 Person bitten by dog; liability of owner.
Sec. 1. (1) If a dog bites a person, without provocation while the person is on public property, or lawfully on private property, including the property of the owner of the dog, the owner of the dog shall be liable for any damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness.  (2) A person is lawfully on the private property of the owner of the dog within the meaning of this act if the person is on the owner's property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him or her by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or if the person is on the owner's property as an invitee or licensee of the person lawfully in possession of the property unless said person has gained lawful entry upon the premises for the purpose of an unlawful or criminal act. 

Dog owner s are limited to the defenses enumerated in the statute, namely that the plaintiff provoked the dog or the plaintiff was a trespasser at the time of the incident. Nicholes v. Lorenz (Mich. 1976), 237 N.W.2d 468.  More.

Landlords can be held liable for bites inflicted by dogs belonging to tenants. In Szkodzinski v. Griffin, 171 Mich. App. 711, 431 N.W.2d 51 (1988), the 6-year-old plaintiff was bitten when a vicious dog owned by the defendant's residential tenant attacked him when he entered the premises to retrieve his ball.  The court, citing Strunk  v. Zoltanki, supra, 62 N.Y.2d 572, 468 N.E.2d 13, 479 N.Y.S.2d 175, stated that the defendant landlord could be held liable if he knew of the dog's vicious nature.

In Conculsion - Michigan Law

Unlike many other states, Michigan law doesn't take into account that times have changed and our pet dogs and cats are more like our children, family members and close friends - rather than farm animals. They sleep in our beds and are to many, "furry children". We call ourselves "pet parents" and sometimes dress them in clothes. Most vets promote this close attachment to our animals, after all, it gets them larger sums for new procedures to keep vets wealthy. Over the last century we have gone from a rural society to an urban one. The role our pets take in our lives has changed dramatically - but the law in Michigan and most states has not. Michigan law still regards our dogs and cats as "chattel" - (an article of movable personal property). Yes, like chickens or cattle or table lamps. Your "fur child" is livestock under Michigan Law. If a chicken is killed, his worth is that of a roaster in the deli - but only if you can prove it with $5,000 expert witness! Michigan law puts your pet in that same category and makes it just as difficult to get justice when something bad happens. 

Please ask your friends to join with us to change the law. One place to put pressure on bad vets and reward good ones is to rate them online - places you can do this are vetratingz.com and ripoffreport.com. Please tell us about the good vets and warn us about the bad. Be aware, many bad vets will go to great lengths to have bad reviews removed - even paying if necessary to make sure their fake sterling reputation remains intact (even if it's a lie). If you have a problem with a vet - FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE STATE LICENSING BOARD even if it gets you nowhere (as corrupt as it is, it sends a message). In my situation the vet was able to pay enough money to stop his license from being revoked. It's still important because it is a written record. Somehow we need to make sloppy veterinarians accountable.  Others that criminally shoot or torture animals should be added to a registry of animal abusers. 


Veterinary Malpractice - Do you have a case?

The MSU Library has a very good article on this.




Want to know more?

About the 1919 Dog Law

Mulan's Horror Story

Other Pet Stories

Dog Law - Legal terms, case studies

Resources for Change

List of malpractice/abuse cases

Puppy Lemon Laws