A New Jersey Court will determine if you can sue a dog’s owner if you’re hurt while trying to rescue the dog. I’m Amy E. Feldman.
A woman heard her neighbor’s cries after the neighbor’s dog Beau jumped into a canal, so she jumped in to save the dog. The dog made it to safety, but the woman nearly drowned and suffered brain damage, according to a lawsuit her husband filed against the neighbors. Under the law, a person who gets hurt when trying to rescue a person who negligently put himself and the rescuer in danger can sue that person. But the doctrine has never been extended to pets, who are considered property under the law.
The husband’s lawyer argues that society sees the danger to a pet as akin to the danger to a child and the rescuer should be covered. But Beau’s owner’s lawyers say it would be unreasonable to extend the rescue doctrine to cover a pet, which is not a person but is property. Now, the court will decide a case that will say a lot about how society and the law view the emotional impact of an imperiled pet.