No love lost as Great Dane lands neighbours in a legal dog fight
Published 11/02/2012 | 05:00
Rowing neighbours yesterday ended up in court over a Great Dane dog called 'Love the Life'.
The legal dispute centred on the breeding potential of 'Love the Life' and whether one neighbour effectively reduced the value of its pups by putting "not for breeding" on its papers.
Pedigree Great Dane pups can earn an owner €1,000 a pup, but those without proper papers generate less than half that.
Ryan Moloney (13), of Leacarrow, Tulla, Co Clare, was suing his neighbour Orla Killeen King of Rannagh, Tulla, who gave him the dog. Ryan was seeking damages over an alleged breach of contract relating to 'Love for Life', and was suing through his father, David Moloney.
At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge James O'Donohoe warned the two sides in dispute over 'Love the Life' that such disputes "can last generations unless nipped in the bud".
The judge said: "Whatever the reason is behind this, you should shake hands outside court. After all, it's only a dog, it's not the end of the world."
David O'Regan BL, for Ryan, said that he received 'Love the Life' from Ms King in June 2007.
Mr O'Regan said that no money was paid, but there was an agreement that Ms King would have a pup from the dog's litter, and that Ryan would bear all the costs of looking after 'Love the Life'.
He said: "It was in effect a partnership agreement."
But Mr O'Regan said that the defendant put a note known as an "endorsement" on the dog's papers in November 2007 "out of spite".
This note said that the dog "was not for breeding" -- this does not prevent the dog from being bred under Kennel Club rules, but substantially reduces the value of any offspring.
Mr O'Regan said that the endorsement had the effect of greatly reducing the value of 'Love the Life's' pups.
Louise Merrigan BL, counsel for Ms King, rejected the allegation that the endorsement was placed "out of spite".
She said such an endorsement was "common case, and was done for the welfare of the dog and that would be standard in the circumstances".
Ms Merrigan said that the dog -- who was not in court yesterday -- was a gift to the boy and that there was no contract entered into.
'Love the Life' has had eight pups, sold for an average €400 each, instead of the €800 to €1,000 that could have been reached without the endorsement on its papers.
In the case, Ryan was claiming a net loss of between €3,200 to €4,800 from the effect the endorsement had on the value of the pups.
Ryan was also seeking damages for the estimated €6,800 spent in feed, bedding, worming for 'Love the Life' and her pups along with stud fee and microchipping costs.
Judge O'Donohoe said: "The most expedient thing to do would be to retract the endorsement."
Mr O'Regan said: "We are forced to be here today. All we ever wanted was the endorsement to be lifted."
Judge O'Donohoe said that he would give both sides time to discuss the issue, otherwise he said that he would reach a ruling that would include one side having to pay all the costs.
After 30 minutes, both sides returned and Ms Merrigan said that her client was willing to retract the endorsement.
Ms Merrigan said that it was also agreed that Ms King would have the pick of one pup from 'Love the Life's' litter.
No order was made relating to costs, meaning that both sides will have to foot their own legal bill.
Judge O'Donohoe urged both sides to make up. He said: "You are all neighbours. You don't want neighbourly relations to further deteriorate."