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May 27, 2010

Boycotting State Farm / Driver kills dog but not held responsible

CANADA - The Flemming family of Aurora, Ontario lost their dog Jake two months ago when it was struck and killed by a woman driver in a hit-and-run. According to witnesses she hit the golden Labrador Retriever and kept on driving.

A Good Samaritan man went to the dog as he lay dying on the road and then went to inform Flemming that their dog had been hit. Jake died in Kim Flemming's arms.

Approx. two months later, on May 17th, Flemming received a bill for $1,732.80 from State Farm Insurance claiming that she is 100% responsible for the damages to the car because the dog wasn't on a leash.

Okay, so what about the emotional suffering of the dog owner? If anything the driver should be paying her money, not the other way around.

Also given that it was a hit and run and the driver didn't even have the common decency to stop and instead fled the scene of the crime I am highly suspicious of who was really at fault.

If I (or anyone else) gets hit by a car in a hit-and-run I really don't think its reasonable for the insurance company to be blaming the person who was struck by the car when the driver didn't even stick around.

The Flemming family should not be held responsible for such an accident. Especially if it truly was an accident and not the result of flagrant speeding / lack of attention on the part of the driver.

Using Google street view we can see the approx. location of where the dog was killed. Its a straight strip of road with no curves or major hills with very little traffic. Quite safe for a dog, just so long as drivers are paying attention.

Here's what may have happened... just a guess. The driver was on her cell phone, not paying attention, swerved a little on the road and then hit the dog. She kept driving because she didn't want the police to know she had been talking on her cellphone and driving at the same time. She reported the damage to the insurance company and let them sort it out.

The Flemming family has informed State Farm they do not plan to pay the bill, and are considering their options.

“I think going to this level is insulting,” says daughter Katherine Flemming, her voice breaking. “We’ve lost a member of our family but we’re supposed to pay for the damage to her bumper? That’s just wrong.”

While I do agree dogs should be leashed in towns because of the number of cars going by, in the countryside it is far more a tradition to let farm dogs roam so they can scare away predators. Its common sense that farm pets ROAM. Cats catch mice, dogs protect their owners and the cattle/chickens by scaring off predators like foxes, coyotes and raccoons. Its a necessity of farming.

As such I'd argue they aren't just pets. They're dual-purpose as farm animals.

Remember Lassie? Where would Timmy be if Lassie couldn't roam? How could Lassie find Timmy trapped down a well and then fetch help? If some inept person can't drive a car well enough to avoid a dog then they don't deserve a driver's license. Looking at that plain strip of road the only excuse for hitting a dog is lack of attention to the road.

The driver should be paying damages for killing the dog and not sticking around at the scene of the crime.

And as for State Farm? I recommend they learn some manners and common sense. Companies with a lack of common sense (ie. British Petroleum, Halliburton, Enron, etc.) don't deserve to be in business and should be boycotted.

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