What Are Dogs’ Lives Worth?

by Mary Haight on January 7, 2012

Dogs by law have been considered owned property, the value being whatever costdogs' value was initially paid. This concept was challenged by a Texas judge last November. The court of appeals agreed there is a sentimental value to a pet (Life With Dogs) after plaintiffs brought a case concerning their 8-year-old dog who got out of the yard, was caught and wrongly killed by Animal Control. The plaintiffs are not pursuing the case for any monetary compensation, but they wanted accountability on the books.  This decision will have major implications across many areas, from daycare to grooming, pet food to puppy mills and it will be really interesting to see how this plays out State by State.

The first case this year appears to be one in New York regarding a Brussels Griffon puppy, Umka, purchased for $1650 from Raising Rover Ltd in Manhattan. The attorney in this case is seeking damages for pain and suffering – the dog had a congenital defect in her hips and has bad knees causing great pain.  This is being cited as a landmark lawsuit that could redefine the legal status of pets.  There is already a puppy lemon law in New York, but Attorney Susan Chana Lask would test the law to go further.

What do you think? If the law is changed to reflect pain and suffering as an avenue for suit, would pet shops ultimately close down or be forced to convert to adopting shelter pets?  Some have said vets will start practicing defensive medicine and costs will rise – although I think that horse has left the barn =) Is there a clear and simple answer here?

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/catskill05 )

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