Many times when a new attorney joins a law firm, the new attorney will inherit unusual cases because other attorneys will find ways to give the new attorney enough work to do. In this way, I was assigned to take over the representation of the plaintiff in a case of slander of a dog.
Our clients were very upset because another dog owner questioned the parentage, appearance and character of their dog.
Many words for dogs appear fairly slanderous in themselves, for example “mutt,” “cur,” and “hound.” It appears that the word “dog” itself can be used to slander humans, for example, “that woman is a real dog,” and “untrustworthy, treacherous, completely venal man.”
Suit was filed in federal court. The other side moved to dismiss based on the reality that a dog could not be slandered. The judge agreed and dismissed the case.
On rehearing, the judge reversed his ruling. The reality was that the dog in question was a pure bred show dog who had a great deal of value as a breeder. Statements about the parentage, appearance and character of the dog were intended to and did have a negative effect on the value of the dog as a breeder.
The lawsuit for business disparagement and tortious interference with business relations had merit. The case settled after the judge accepted that a cause of action existence.