Meter reader hits, kills puppy on family's property

- A Bartow couple is heartbroken. They say a meter reader driving on their property ran over their puppy, killing it. They want the company to pay for the loss.

Nathan Dailey and his girlfriend Mary Ann Franklin never imagined the scene that would play out in their own driveway. March 9, meter readers were driving house-to-house in their Bartow neighborhood, inspecting equipment.

"He comes onto our property at the same time we did, on the other side," Dailey recalled. "We were hollering at him, telling him to, 'stop, stop, don't come on our property.' Well, he didn't see the puppy we had out running out in the yard and he ended up running it over."

The 6-week old mixed breed named Princess was instantly killed, in front of her brother and mother.

"It was horrifying, it was really horrifying," Dailey said. "I just picked the dog up and cradled it in my arms and took it away. I took the dog off to the side of the field here by the tree and I buried her."

Dailey says the employee acknowledged what happened, but after reading the meter, took off without providing a name. A Polk County sheriff's deputy eventually identified him as an employee of California-based Alexander's, Inc., a company subcontracted by the city of Bartow.

Dailey and Franklin say they've spoken with Alexander's, Inc. The city has given them the company's insurance paperwork. But two weeks later, Dailey says, "I'm still with no help, no nothing."

Alexander, Inc.'s Chief Operating Officer, Chris Molina has a different perspective. He said the city does give them rights to go onto homeowners' properties to check meters. He said that when the employee heard the couple yelling, he backed up the vehicle. He said that's when the employee ran over the dog.

Molina said he sympathizes with the couple, but so far, he claims no one has asked specifically for any type of payment. He said that's something they are willing to work out since their insurance deductible is too high to cover this type of loss.

However, due to the high emotions involved, he's asked the city of Bartow to find out what the couple wants.

FOX 13contacted the City Manager's Office to see what's happening on their end, but haven't heard back.
Dailey says he doesn't want a huge sum of money. He just wants to feel whole again.

"She was a very precious dog to us, she was only about 6-7 weeks old and she became very attached to us and we miss this poor puppy very much," Dailey said.

Attorneys gave their insight on the situation. They say pets are considered property under Florida law. Owners are only entitled to their market value.

That's a law that Senator Dana Young is trying to change. She and another lawmaker have filed bills that would give pet owners a path of recourse if someone hurts or kills their pets. It would also hold defendants accountable for emotional trauma suffered.

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