ANDERSON, SC (WSPA) — An Anderson family has filed a lawsuit against a man they said was drunk when he hit and killed their family dog in front of them.
7 News’ Asia Wilson spoke exclusively to the dog’s owner, who explained what she claims happened.
Christina Grant, a mother of three, said she and her sons watched it all play out, while they were standing in their driveway. Grant now hopes the civil suit will spark change to state laws.
“This has been unspeakably tragic to all of us, but especially to my youngest son. It’s been almost four months, and he still has nightmares and wakes up in the middle of the night,” Grant said.
December 27, 2020–was the day Grant said her family and their dogs were inside their home watching TV, when something caught their attention outside.
“We heard this awful loud bang, so we looked out our side window, and saw what looked like a fire in the hospice parking lot,” Grant said.
She and her sons ran outside. The family dogs followed them outside, as well.
“So we were in our driveway watching this vehicle come down the road and within just a blink of an eye, this vehicle swerved over into our driveway, and hit our smallest dog, and she got trapped under the wheel of the car and he kept driving down the road, blew threw a four-way intersection, and the dog was screaming and hollering. It was horrible,” Grant said.
“Probably about a quarter of a mile down the road, we heard her have a final screech and a loud sound which she dislodged from underneath the vehicle,” Grant added. “Needless to say it was pretty horrible and traumatic.”
The dog owner said her six-year-old son was only about a foot away from their dog, Susie, when she was hit.
“It was bad enough, but it could’ve been way worse,” Grant said.
The lawsuit claims the driver was intoxicated.
“The driver was charged criminally with DUI and the challenge on the civil side, which is where we represent this family is that, as of today, as of right now, South Carolina only values a dog, the same way they would any piece of property,” said Kenneth Berger, Attorney at the Law Office of Kenneth Berger.
“It wasn’t just, oh our poor dog got run over which is bad enough, but he witnessed it, he saw it and he heard it for several several seconds after the incident. It was one of the worst things I’ve seen,” Grant said.
Grant and her attorney want things to change.
“Well, the law currently values the life of a pet just like they would a VCR. Or a video game. It is only purchased price. This dog, sweet Susie, was a member of our family. She was my little boy’s best friend. And so what we’re hoping is to enact a bigger change,” said Grant. “A real change for the change of the law.”
“A legal fiction exists and so there needs to be a legal remedy,” Berger said. “And so we are bringing this case in hopes that, either through the courts or through the legislature, some change comes about to further recognize the value that families place on pets.”
Berger said they’re also seeking bystander liability or bystander damages, due to the trauma of witnessing the death.
“In this case, not only was their dog killed by a drunk driver, but the dog was killed by a drunk driver in front of the owner and her children,” Berger said.
Now the grieving family hopes all animals in cases like this are valued for their lives like humans, rather than a price on a receipt.
“How do you put value on a life. I don’t know how you value that. For us she was invaluable,” Grant said.
“I think we have to look at the bigger picture,” she added. “Life is valuable. All life is valuable.”
Berger said they have not received a response from the driver, but he anticipates one within the next several weeks.
The driver was charged with driving under the influence (DUI), and has requested a jury trial for the criminal charge.