Every year we get two or three phone calls from dog owners whose dog has been killed in an accident, or by another dog. These callers are understandably upset, and sometimes distraught, and want those who caused the death punished to the fullest extent of the law.
Without exception, these animal lovers are aghast when I tell them that the State of California views their beloved pet as nothing more than property, and that the most damages they could receive in a civil action is the “replacement value” of the dog. That’s right, if your German Shepherd Champ has been your trusted companion for a decade, with you through thick and thin, and is killed due to someone else’s negligence, in California you would be limited to what it would costs to buy another 10-year-old German Shepherd; probably no more than a few hundred bucks.
The Supreme Court of Vermont is going to decided whether a family dog should be treated merely as property, or something more, such as a member of the family. The case to be decided involves a couple from Anapolis, Md., whose dog Shadow wandered into a man’s yard and was shot dead. The man pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal cruelty and paid $4,000 to cover medical expenses and burial costs, but Shadow’s owners are unhappy. They think the life of Shadow, who was like a family member, is worth more, and that they should be able to recover for the emotional damages they have suffered since his loss.
The family’s attorney David Putter told the AP that unlike a piece of property, dogs “love you back.” There is a relationship there, something that can’t be replaced just by a visit to the store.
The court is not expected to issue a ruling until next spring.
The accident and injury lawyers at Walton Law Firm LLP represent individuals and families who have been injured in all types of accidents, including car accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, construction accident. Call (866) 607-1325 for a free consultation.