Saturday, January 28, 2012

Soap opera actor kills self after feeling pressured into euthanizing his dog

Ok, not exactly animal law... but another story that undeniably demonstrates that people can, and do, form extremely intense emotional bonds with non-humans... and the law really ought to take that value into account.

A down-on-his-luck soap-opera actor took his own life this week after he was forced to put his beloved dog to sleep under pressure from his Upper West Side condo and became wracked by grief, pals said.

The New York Post has more...

I wasn't going to blog about this initially because, well, it was just so disturbing to read that I (as I imagine many others did too) pushed it away. But after several people brought it to my attention, I changed my mind. Pushing it away does not change anything.

The likely outcome here is that nothing will happen to these condo neighbors. At best, Nick's parents or siblings (if he has any and assuming they are alive and actually maintained a close relation to him) might have an attenuated claim of some sort for emotional distress (and assuming NY law doesn't have a contemporaneous injury requirement, which many states do). One colleague suggested that perhaps karma will find the complaining neighbors. I wouldn't be opposed to that, but I wouldn't peg any hopes on that, either. Many people behave terribly towards each other all the time; they never lose sleep over it and nothing bad happens to them as a result of it.

We can't make the condo neighbors be better human beings. But we can push harder for laws that will constrain or criminalize their bullying behavior to the point where this outcome can be avoided. We can push harder for education to teach people not to arbitrarily fear based on immutable traits. And we can make it clear through our own better conduct that the time for that sort of garbage has passed. RIP Nick and Rocco.

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