Recent Texas Court of Appeals Decision: Using Pets as Property to Gain Ground

Jillian Bittner
In an opinion delivered by Justice Gabriel on November 3, 2011 inthe case of Medlen v. Strickland, the Second Court of Appeals of Texas, Fort Worth, reversed the trial court’s dismissal of Kathryn and Jeremy Medlen’s suit against Carla Strickland for the death of their dog. In what can only be considered a landmark decision, the Second Court of Appeals remanded the Medlens’ case, thereby granting the Medlens the right to sue for the “sentimental or intrinsic value of their wrongfully euthanized dog, Avery.

Kathryn and Jeremy Medlen’s history with their dog Avery began when Kathryn adopted Avery from a homeless man. The facts of this specific case, however, begin when Avery escaped from the Medlens’ backyard during a thunderstorm on or around June 2, 2009. Avery was soon thereafter picked up by animal control. Jeremy Medlen went to the animal shelter, Fort Worth Animal Care and Control, to recover Avery but did not have enough money with him to cover the fee in its entirety. Jeremy was informed that he could return to retrieve Avery on June 10th, and a “hold for owner” tag was placed on Avery’s cage, which was intended to protect Avery from being euthanized. On June 6th, Carla Strickland, an employee at the shelter placed Avery on a “to be euthanized” list for the following day, despite the label on Avery’s designated cage. On June 7th Avery was euthanized. When the Medlen family returned a few days later to get Avery, they were told he was put down. Continue reading