Can a lawyer prove the existence of a living soul? If you're defending Elena Zakharova and her dog Umka, that's exactly what you'll have to do.
In a rather bizarre lawsuit, Zakharova is suing Raising Rover, an Upper East Side pet store where she purchased Umka, a tiny Brussels Griffon, last February.
After a veterinarian recommended by the pet store deemed the pooch healthy, Zakharova claims Umka started to limp and whimper in pain and was later diagnosed with a bad knee and hip.
The Daily News says Zakharova is now suing the store on behalf of her and Umka to receive compensation for close to $8,000 in veterinarian bills plus an undisclosed amount to rectify the dog's suffering.
The unusual twist falls on Zakharova's lawyer who is attempting to convince the judge that Umka's suffering can be likened to the pain of a 7-year old child because pets must be "recognized as living souls, not inanimate objects."
[Zakharova] can get pain and suffering damage and they're worth a lot more than the puppy lemon law that gives you the value of the dog. How can we value her pain and suffering? So let's compare it to a 7-year-old child that slipped and fell. [The suit] requests humanity for Umka in that she be considered a living soul that feels pain, and that her pain and suffering is recognized by this state and considered as damages to her.
While lawyer Susan Chana Lask admits the unprecedented case to prove Umka is not property will prove to be challenging, Lask may be able to use the fact that Raising Rover has a history of selling dogs supplied by puppy mills known for their cruel treatment towards animals.
Last November, an undercover investigation videotaped workers from 11 stores in the city purchasing such dogs, despite claiming their animals were bought from "private breeders." Raising Rover was one of the those stores.
Tell us below what you think about Umka: is her soul deserving of the cash?
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more