Summation in an Animal Cruelty Case - Animal Law Source

Summation in an Animal Cruelty Case

Summation in an Animal Cruelty Case

In the late 1800s, Senator G. Vest of Missouri was representing a man whose

dog was killed by his neighbor. The man was suing for $200. When Vest got

through with the jury they awarded $500. This, in part, is Vest’s summation to the

jury:

Gentlemen of the Jury: The best friend a man has in this world may turn against

him and become his enemy. His son and daughter that he has reared with loving

care may become ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those

whom we trust with our happiness and our good name may become traitors to

their faith. The money that a man has he may lose. It flies away from him when

he may need it most. Man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-
considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees and do us

honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when

failure settles its cloud upon our head. The only absolutely unselfish friend a man

may have in this selfish world, the one who never deserts him, the one that never

proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.

A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and poverty, in health and sickness.

He will sleep on the cold ground, when the wintry winds blow and the snow

drives fiercely, if only he can be by his maser’s side. He will kiss the hand that

has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter

with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of a pauper as if he were

a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and

reputation falls to pieces he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey

through the heavens. If fortune drives the master forth as outcast into the world,

friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of

accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies, and

when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace

and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue

their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between

his paws and eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to

death.

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