MINNEAPOLIS - UPDATE: American Family Insurance agreed to a settlement with Jack. The details are confidential but we are told all sides are satisfied.
MINNEAPOLIS - What’s the value of your pet? That’s the question before a Minnesota court as they try to determine whether a man whose dog was mauled by another dog deserves to be reimbursed for the vet bills.
Jack Deichert was walking his dog in an alley near his northeast Minneapolis home in 2015 when the attack happened. He says, and Minneapolis Animal Control reports show, that an aggressive dog escaped from a nearby yard and attacked his dog Margot, a two-year-old miniature schnauzer.
“It was a really frightening experience,” he says “I saw blood coming out of Margot and I tried pulling this massive pit bull off of her and it wouldn’t let go.”
Jack says he received a minor bite to his finger. Margot managed to get away, but suffered life threatening injuries including a crushed trachea. Jack rushed her to the animal hospital. Margot survived after emergency surgery.
The veterinary bills totaled more than $5,300. Jack says initially the aggressive dog’s owner volunteered to pay for the bills. But soon, he found himself dealing with her homeowners’ insurance company, American Family.
The insurance company said they would only pay for Margot’s vet bills up to her “actual cash value”.
In a letter from August of 2015 the insurer writes “Our homeowner and auto policies are ACV (actual cash value) not RCV (replacement cash value).” It then compares the situation to a totaled car. “Property damage depreciates. In this case, we can only honor the ACV of your dog.”
In short, neither the attacking dog’s owner nor her insurance company would pay because Margot wasn’t worth the cost to treat her injuries.
Nearly two years later, the case is scheduled to go to court. Jack is suing to recover the cost of the veterinary bills. American Family has asked a judge to dismiss Jack’s claim.
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However, after KARE 11 reached out to American Family about the case, a spokesperson issued this statement.
“This was an emotionally difficult incident for everyone involved and we are thankful both the dog and owner have recovered from their injuries. While the claim has gone to litigation and Minnesota courts have been clear in ruling on similar incidents, we have continued to seek a resolution that satisfies all parties. We are hopeful resolution will be reached soon.”
Jack’s attorney Bob Lazear disputes the idea that the law views Margot as property in the same way it views a damaged car.
“If you don’t take care of your dog or your pet that’s a felony. You or abuse or neglect your animal,” he says. “So the law does recognize that Margot is not like a crashed Toyota Corolla or a toaster.”
2 Wants To Know talked with Christopher Cook with Alliance Insurance. He said "by legal definition, a dog is a possession. While medical costs are probably really high and the owner of the insured animal would pay anything for their pet; it doesn't hold the same value to anyone else."
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