Minn. Driver Kills Dog, Then Sues Owners For Damage

(AP) The driver of a 1997 Honda Civic that struck and killed a dog near Cloquet is suing the dog's owners for damage done to his vehicle. Jeffery Ely was driving on the night of Jan. 4 when Fester, a miniature pinscher, squeezed past owner Nikki Munthe as she was letting in her other dog and ran out onto the road. Ely's car struck Fester, killing the 13-pound dog instantly.

Now Ely is suing the Munthes for about $1,100 for damage to his car, time he had to take off from his two jobs to get the car repaired, and court fees.

Pieces of the bumper were propelled into the radiator when it hit the dog, Ely said, necessitating a replacement. Ely maintains he didn't have problems driving until after the accident and that the radiator issues were not pre-existing.

Ely said he feels sorry for the Munthes' loss but, as a dog owner himself, feels that they must be responsible for their pets' actions.

"I have complete compassion for them," Ely said. "I know how it feels. I love dogs. But once you get them, they are your responsibility."

Munthe said she has always been worried about the busy road the family lives on.

"We would have never let him off-leash because we're so terrified of this road," she said.

The case will be heard in St. Louis County Court on Friday.

The Munthes have filed a $2,400 countersuit against Ely for the cost to buy Fester, the time they had to take off work for court appearances, and the cost of buying a dog to replace Fester.

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Information from: Duluth News Tribune, http://www.duluthsuperior.com

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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