Gate Left Open, Dog Died

(WSVN) - You have a yard. You have a gate. You have pets, and if that gate is left open and your dog gets out, it’s not a good thing. In fact, for one South Florida woman, a lawn guy cost her dog her life, and it’s why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Christmastime is coming. If you didn’t know it, walk into Lyndia Carter’s brightly decorated house.

Lyndia Carter: “I love it. It’s cheerful, it’s happy. It makes me happy.”

Lyndia enjoys her Christmas collection, but not as much as she treasures her dogs.

Lyndia Carter: “I had four dogs, but three now.”

Lyndia’s fourth dog was Daisy, her 12-year-old Shih Tzu mix.

Lyndia Carter: “She was a member of the family. Devastating heartbreak.”

One night, Lyndia and her husband came home.

Lyndia Carter: “It was dark. We let the dogs out back like we always do, and three came back. Not the fourth one.”

They rushed outside and found Daisy — in the lake behind their house.

Lyndia Carter: “Because there’s a slant that goes down the lake, and it was dark, I’m sure she just tumbled right into the water and couldn’t help herself.”

Turns out their back gate was open. Lyndia’s security cameras revealed the association’s yard guys opened it to mow the grass, and then walked out.

Lyndia Carter: “You just see the gate stay open, and then two more guys walked by it while it was open and didn’t bother to stop and shut it.”

Lyndia found the guys who left the gate open.

Lyndia Carter: “Their response to finding out that my dog had drowned was, ‘So you don’t want us to mow your yard anymore?'”

Lyndia complained to their supervisors and her Emerald Estates property manager.

Lyndia Carter: “Someone should be accountable for it. They gave us a lot of, “Yeah, we’ll do something, we’ll so something, we’ll do something,” and then nothing.”

In fact, Lyndia says, a few days later she watched the same guys who left the gate open when her dog drowned leave the back gate open again.

Lyndia Carter: “I stood at the window and watched, and watched them do the exact same thing.”

Lyndia’s sister lives across the street and has had a similar problem with the yard guys.

Lyndia Carter: “They broke my sister’s gate and just left a pile of wood sitting there, so her dogs got out because they went through the hole.”

Clearly Lyndia is tired of them.

Lyndia Carter: “I would like them to be gone out of this development. They leave the gate open. What if a child came in and drowned in my pool?”

Well, Howard, Lyndia didn’t hire the yard guys. Her association did. So what can she do?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “The reason a homeowner has a gate is to keep something in or out, and common sense says, when you open the gate, you have to close it. If you do not, you are negligent. But can Lyndia fire them? No, only her association or property manager has the ability to do that.”

We contacted Castle Group, which manages Emerald Estates, to see if they would honor Lyndia’s request to find another lawn service company. They told us they had no comment.

We talked to a spokesman with Brightview, the lawn service company. They wrote, “We extend our sympathies to the Carters,” adding, “We are investigating to determine what happened and to examine what role, if any, our crew may have played in this unfortunate incident. Because the matter is under investigation, we cannot comment further.”

Howard Finkelstein: “If anyone continues to leave you gate open, and a child wanders into the pool and drowns, then the company could be held responsible for that death.”

Lyndia has given up on her association or property manager resolving the problem, but she says the lawn guys won’t be coming through that gate anymore.

Lyndia Carter: “I’ve locked that back gate so that no one could come in or out, because I don’t ever trust they’re doing the right thing.”

You might be thinking, could Lyndia get compensated for the loss of her 12-year-old dog? Not much. The law doesn’t see a pet as a treasure, just a piece of property, like a chair. The only thing you are owed was what it would cost to buy another animal. Not fair to people who love their cats and dogs, but the law doesn’t care.

Got a problem dogging you? Ready to unlock a solution? Contact us. See if we can mow through the weeds to help you out.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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