xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement

After the death of a beloved dog and a $13,000 vet bill, a Pasadena man seeks to change civil lawsuits with ‘Buddy’s Law’

Pasadena resident Laurence Sanders prepares to tell lawmakers about Buddy the miniature schnauzer, who died after being shot by a BB gun in 2018. Sanders is advocating for a bill that would increase the amount a person could seek in damages from $10,000 to $25,000 in cases of animal abuse, torture and death.
Pasadena resident Laurence Sanders prepares to tell lawmakers about Buddy the miniature schnauzer, who died after being shot by a BB gun in 2018. Sanders is advocating for a bill that would increase the amount a person could seek in damages from $10,000 to $25,000 in cases of animal abuse, torture and death.(Olivia Sanchez)

Buddy the miniature schnauzer had an alpha spirit. He was the leader of a four-dog pack and an undeniable member of the family, said Laurence Sanders, Pasadena resident and Buddy’s former owner.

So when Sanders swung open the front door to their waterfront home one night in June 2018 and Buddy wasn’t the first to greet him, he was concerned.

Advertisement

Sanders discovered that Buddy had been shot in the abdomen with a BB gun that evening while he and his wife had been at a Lake Shore Severna Park Rotary Club meeting. After 10 days of anguish and expensive emergency veterinary care, Sanders said, Buddy died from his injuries.

Nearly two years after Buddy’s death, Sanders spoke before the House Judiciary Committee in Annapolis Wednesday to lobby for a bill that would increase the amount of money a Maryland resident can seek in a civil lawsuit from $10,000 to $25,000 in circumstances related to the injury or death of a pet.

“Pets are considered property,” Sanders said, “but in our eyes, our pets are our family.”

Buddy, he said, was a beautiful, happy dog who slept in his bed every night.

The bill, dubbed ‘Buddy’s Law,’ is a direct result of what Sanders endured in the nearly two years since Buddy was killed. Sanders filed a civil lawsuit against John and Carol Gaylord — neighbors he believes shot Buddy — after he was told there was not enough evidence to pursue criminal charges.

John and Carol Gaylord could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

In the 10 days after Buddy was shot before he died, Sanders and his wife spent at least $13,000 on emergency surgery and around-the-clock veterinary care, he said. Buddy’s surgery alone cost $8,000, he said in an emotional testimony Wednesday.

In addition to veterinary care costs, Sanders said he’s spent around $16,000 in legal fees. The emotional and financial burden of what happened to Buddy has been immense, he said.

Advertisement

Maryland law caps compensatory damages awarded to an owner of a pet that was injured or killed at $10,000. Under current law, if Sanders were to win his civil suit, the highest amount he could be awarded is $10,000, an amount the bill’s sponsor, House Minority Leader Nicholaus Kipke, R-Pasadena, said is inconsistent with the cost of veterinary bills.

“This (bill) just adjusts the real damages that are experienced to a higher number to more adequately address the actual medical costs that were incurred,” Kipke said.

House Bill 992 would push the cap amount a plaintiff can be rewarded in a civil lawsuit related to the injury or death of a pet to $25,000. The $25,000 figure mirrors similar civil actions implemented in other states, Kipke said.

The higher amount more accurately reflects the economic loss people feel in situations such as that experienced by Sanders, Kipke said, though, he added, he would like to eliminate the cap altogether.

“If it costs money and you can prove with receipts how much it costs to preserve the life of your pet, I think no matter what it is, you should be on the hook for it if you did this horrible thing,” Kipke said.

Sanders believes Buddy was shot because he, and their three other miniature schnauzers, were barking excessively. The Gaylords had previously yelled at the dogs for barking and admitted to shooting geese, Sanders said.

Advertisement

If the bill passes, it wouldn’t be enacted until October, and it would not affect Sanders’ suit. It wouldn’t allow Sanders to seek a more damages, and it certainly wouldn’t bring Buddy back.

But Sanders hopes it would help other families whose pets are abused or killed.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement