I have a colleague, let's call him Gary, who sits a few rows down from me and had an emotional support dog. A lot of people in the office question whether this is truly a real "emotional support dog" because the dog is old. I've always defended Gary and the dog because I'm a strong believer in emotional support animals. (My cousin actually trains emotional support animals for a living).

Last week when driving home, the dog darted in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes, but unfortunately, the dog died.

I feel very bad for Gary's loss. However, my boss is now requesting I issue a public apology. I really don't feel I need to do this because:

  • This wasn't my fault at all

  • I ended up having to pay for my own car repair out of my own pocket

  • My lawyer friend advised me that publicly apologizing could be inadvertently admitting fault
  • This situation is already embarrassing enough

However, I also don't want to give people the impression that I'm heartless or that I'm one of the people in the office who have been questioning whether this is truly an emotional support animal.

Am I being too selfish in not wanting to apologize? How can I express my remorse and support for emotional support animals, while not admitting fault? Or should I just be quiet and let things simmer?

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    I don't think saying something like "I am sorry for your loss" is an admission of guilt. – Neo Sep 13 '18 at 14:55
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    If it did not happen at the workplace they cannot tell you what to do. – paparazzo Sep 13 '18 at 15:58
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    Did you talk to your boss about the position this puts you in? – Myles Sep 13 '18 at 15:58
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    It likely does not change your unfortunate predicament, but it may be helpful to note two things: 1) emotional support animals are not considered service animals under Title II and Title III of the ADA, so laws regarding them vary by state, and 2) the ADA requires that service animals be under strict control at all times, physically tethered when possible, and things like unexpected barking and running are considered unacceptable behavior. – Alex Howansky Sep 13 '18 at 16:43
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    You're username is not very appropiate for this question. Gary had the best dog. – Ben Mz Sep 13 '18 at 23:26

This isn't a work issue. You should obviously apologize to the owner for running over his dog. But it isn't your fault that the dog wasn't properly controlled. Furthermore, you've accepted part of the fault by paying for the damage to your car instead of filing a claim against the negligent owner.

A private condolences to the owner is in order - but a public apology is not necessary; nobody else was hurt or impacted by the incident. If anyone takes issue with that, tell them that it's on attorney advice.

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    It's a work issue because his boss is forcing it into the workplace. – Andy Sep 13 '18 at 23:30
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    It wasn't OP's fault so they should not apologize but just express their sympathy. Apologizing is the same as admitting their fault. – red-shield Sep 17 '18 at 11:48

Am I being too selfish in not wanting to apologize?

It sounds like you already apologized. It's unclear what you mean when you say your boss wants you to publicly apologize. Do you mean everyone is to gather in the office, and hear you apologize for the dog?

If it did not happen at the office I don't see why you should.

How can I express my remorse and support for emotional support animals, while not admitting fault?

I would just say Gary, I am sorry I could not stop in time when the dog ran in front of my car. I did not see him and it is a very unfortunate situation.

Or should I just be quiet and let things simmer?



Get Gary a card. In the card write:


I am so sorry you lost Toby. I know he was an important companion for you. I wish there was something more I could have done to prevent the accident. I know Toby can’t be replaced, however I hope you can find other ways to receive the comfort and support Toby gave to you.

Yours sincerely


Just hand the card to Gary and simply say “I’m sorry for your loss”.

Your lawyer may be right that apologizing could hurt you if Garry sues you, however, you are more likely to be sued if Garry thinks you don't care.


There are precedents. Historically Cúchulainn killed an Irish Wolfhound belonging to a blacksmith and then made up for it to the distraught owner by taking over it's duties until a replacement could be reared.

So in lieu of some lame, ineffectual condolences you could offer to provide emotional support to the chap until he acquires a replacement, unsure what form that would take. A daily hug or two might suffice.

Cúchulainn didn't go around naked on all fours, so no tail wagging or licking would be required.

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    Sétanta, who became Cú Chulainn, was probably more suited to be a guard dog than an emotional support animal. – Ben Mz Sep 17 '18 at 19:39
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    @BenMz most culture heroes were homicidal maniacs – Kilisi Sep 18 '18 at 23:34

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