How much is a dog worth? It is a simple question, and historically has been reduced to an answer that current pet lovers do not like. The sad matter of the fact for those who put their life and love into the life of a pet is that under the law, pets are only worth the cold, hard cash it takes to buy them and maintain them. But this norm is being challenged in the Georgia Supreme Court, and set for a decision soon.
In this case, a Georgia couple went on vacation but could not take their dog with them. They researched for and discovered a local dog kennel that was advertised as a kennel offering private suites for rest and relaxation. Their dog, however, had several complications and requires specific doses of medication to control its arthritis. The couple gave the needed instructions to the kennel and left for their vacation.
When the couple returned from their trip, they discovered that the dog no longer had an appetite and they had to take it to a veterinarian for care. The dog was suffering from renal failure, and despite the owners spending over $60,000 to try and keep it alive, the dog died.
In the wake of the dog’s death, the owners sued the kennel for causing the dog’s death. Their argument was that they gave the dog too much medication which led to the dog’s renal failure, which ultimately killed her. The kennel’s argument is that even if it is true, the dog had no value because it was a free rescue dog.
Now the question before the High Court of Georgia is twofold: first, whether dog owners could be compensated for the amount of money spent on a pet, though it was a pet not worth anything; second, whether a jury can consider emotional damages to a family or owner when a pet is negligently handled.
If the court in this case changes course and overturns the status quo, it will open a whole new world of litigation for pet owners and their attorneys. The real question is whether at this point in time, society is ready to stop treating pets like property, and more like people. Over time pets have garnered more rights than they had before. For example, there are animal abuse laws that never existed before. In comparison, there are no abuse laws in place for other property, like shoes for example.
In Florida a dog recently found a judge expanding his rights. In that case, the dog had been accused of biting a small child, but only after the child reportedly provoked the dog. Under Florida law the dog was bound to be destroyed, but the owner sued to have the law requiring a dog be destroyed unconstitutional. The dog owner won amid what seemed like international attention about the story, and the judge sided with the dog. So it seems like dogs and other pets are slowly but surely gaining more and more rights.
Panama City Area Dog Bite Attorney
No matter how this court rules here, owners in Florida will continue to be liable for the harm their dogs cause. At The Pittman Firm, we help victims of dog bites recover for the harm they suffer. If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, contact us.
See related blog posts: Fatal Dog Attack Brings Charges; Circuit Court Judge Saves Condemned Dog.