BC News: Court rules puppy death claim

A British Columbia man who claimed he was sold a ‘defective puppy’ has lost his bid for money back, reimbursed for vet bills and compensated for his pain and suffering.

The Civil Resolution Court teased the small claims dispute earlier this week in a decision posted online.

In 2020, Derek Geary bought a two-month-old Yorkshire terrier puppy he named Winston. Geary bought the pup from a woman named Gail Lewis, who raises the dogs in her home, the court heard. Approximately nine months later, the pup was euthanized due to serious and persistent health issues.


WINSTON STATE

Just months after Geary brought Winston home, he noticed his new pet “suddenly had difficulty walking,” the court ruling reads. For the rest of his short life, the pup continued to show a range of troubling symptoms, including blurred vision, degenerating bones in his hind legs and wobbling feet.

The dog was eventually diagnosed with liver disease, but the cause of that disease was “not fully determined”, the court heard, noting that a veterinarian testified it was likely due to a congenital condition described like a “rickety liver”.


THE DISPUTE

When Lewis was informed of Winston’s death, she offered Geary a refund or a replacement puppy. She told the court that she made the offer based on information provided to her that the dog had died of a genetic condition.

However, Lewis told the court that when she learned that this had not been definitively proven, she decided to revoke the offer. She offered to pay Geary $1,500 “as a sign of goodwill because she felt bad about her loss,” the decision states.

That offer was accepted and Lewis paid Geary, the court heard.

But Geary said he was “very unhappy” with the outcome and “did not intend that accepting it would end the case,” wrote court member Kristin Gardner.


REQUIREMENT

Geary was asking the court to order Lewis to pay him a total of $4,759.75 which included reimbursement of the remainder of the purchase price, the cost of Winston’s medical treatment and $1,000 for “pecuniary damage”.

The argument was twofold, notes the decision. First, Geary claimed that Lewis breached the agreement to pay him back or provide him with a new puppy after Winston died. Second, he claimed that Lewis “sold him a defective puppy with numerous health issues,” Gardner explained.

DECISION

The court declined to rule on whether Winston had a genetic condition. Gardner said the point was moot because the money Geary was paid amounted to a “final settlement of their dispute over compensation for Winston’s death.”