In Defence of Dogs, by Neil Ewart
Shortly after the American Civil War the owner of a dog took a third party to Johnson County Court in America. A suit for damages for the killing of another person’s dog was the charge. The owner denied his dog was aggressive, but some evidence showed that the defendant had shot the dog in malice, while other evidence tended to prove the dog had attacked the man.
At the trial, a certain Senator Vest listened to all the evidence and then stood up to give an address. It is reported that he had no notes. His speech has gone down as a masterpiece and he really went for the jugular, and below is just part of it: –
”Gentleman of The Jury. The best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son and daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove 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 one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that 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, where the wintry winds blow, and the snow drives fiercely.’
He went on while staring at each member of the jury and concluded, ”If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies.”
Finally, his master stroke….
”And when the last scene of all comes and death takes his master in its embrace, and his body is laid in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death.”
The effect of this speech is reported to have held the whole court room spellbound with not a dry eye in the house.
Unsurprisingly, the jury took little time to reach a verdict and found in favour of the owner of the dog, despite the evidence finally showing that the dog had attacked the third party’s dog.