Monday, December 15, 2008
Help Me Howard: Pig
To many people, their animals are like family. They care for them, protect them, love them. But to the law, an animal is just a piece of property, and if it suffers and you suffer, too bad. But when one South Florida woman bought a pig, she decided it's not fair, so she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Andrea Macatangay: "I have three dogs."
Plus an African grey parrot.
Andrea Macatangay: "Give me high five. Oh, thank you."
Andrea Macatangay: "You want that? Give me kiss, thank you."
Also a well trained, house-broken skunk.
Andrea Macatangay: "He follows me around, and he likes to cuddle and take naps with me."
And then there is Andrea's newest addition, Arthur the pot-bellied pig.
Andrea Macatangay: "I found out they are the fourth smartest animal in the animal kingdom."
The miniature pig is happy, loving and friendly, refusing to let Andrea out of his sight.
Andrea Macatangay: "His favorite food is pizza. He loves pizza."
But the day Andrea bought him, he seemed uncomfortable, so she immediately took him to her vet and found out why.
Andrea Macatangay: "He had severe mange, which are the mites that live under the skin. He also had a massive hernia."
When the pet store sold Arthur, he was only five weeks old. He should not have been taken from his mother till he was six to eight weeks old. When the vet felt the hernia, he concluded it was about to erupt.
Andrea Macatangay: "That is fatal to the pig. Left untreated, the pig will die in days."
Andrea says it was a miracle that Arthur survived the surgery, but that operation came with a price tag.
Andrea Macatangay: "The tab is up to $4,000, a little bit over $4,500."
To be exact, $4,574. Andrea can pay it but thinks the pet store should be responsible for the bill. She called them, they declined. But since Andrea is in law school, she turned to the law.
Andrea Macatangay: "I hope to recover my veterinary expenses through breach of contract, implied warranty of merchantability."
Spoken like a lawyer but to find out if Andrea is out of luck, let's bring in a lawyer who graduated a long, long time ago.
Howard Finkelstein: "After speaking to Andrea, no doubt she will be a fine lawyer, but when it comes to animals, Florida's law treats pets like a broken toaster. Andrea cannot get her vet bill paid. She cannot get money for the pain and suffering, all she can do is get the cost of the pig and get to keep the pig."
Even though the pet store owner only had to refund the cost of the pig, she made a generous proposal. Because she said, we take care of our customers she suggested that she and Andrea agree on a independent vet to examine the pig. If the vet determines the hernia was congenital, the pet store will pay the vet bill. If it's not congenital, then Andrea pays the vet bill.
But Andrea didn't like the tone of the proposal, arguing it didn't matter if Arthur was born with the hernia or acquired it, that he had it when she bought him. Instead, she may go to court to try to change the law. Not just for her pet pig, but to help all animal lovers.
Andrea Macatangay: "If I can't get my issue resolved by the time I take my last final exam in law school, I will file a claim in small claims court."
And by challenging the law that treats animals like trash, Andrea could get it overturned. When Howard was a young lawyer, he attacked several laws that picked on poor people and got them changed, so Andrea has a chance.
Grunting, groaning and still getting skunked? Don't buy a pig in a poke. Contact us instead. We'll find a way to piggy back on a legal solution.
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