Dog is Injured or Killed


In law, the value of your dog is generally the replacement value of your dog. This replacement money is woefully inadequate when compared to the amount of compensation it would take to take away the emotional pain you feel if your dog is injured or killed.  When a person is injured or dies, the American justice system may award you damages for pain and suffering, fear, and other conditions that may be present.

Many people believe your rights as a dog owner are woefully inadequate if your dog is injured or wrongfully killed. Every once in a while, a case comes to light that shows changes need to be made to some laws.

In March of 2207, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration became aware that certain kinds of pet food were making dogs and cats ill, and even causing their deaths.  In February of 2008, two Chinese nationals, the business they operated and a United States company, its president and chief executive officer were indicted by a Federal grand jury for their parts in importing products that were contaminated with melamine, which was causing people’s dogs and cats to become sick and, in some cases die.

Pets as Property

One of the main issues that came to light as a result of the melamine pet food recall is whether or not the owners of dogs and cats should be able to collect monetary compensation for some or all of their losses.  Both the owner and the pet experienced suffering, and the pet owner may have spent thousands of dollars to veterinarians to try to help their pet recover. Additionally, public policy demands that pet owners keep their pets healthy because poor pet care is associated with dog attacks on people.

The question becomes: who should pay for the losses and bills when your dog or cat is wrongfully injured or killed?  You may be shocked to learn that the law puts the burden on you as a pet owner. Almost all states use the antiquated ruled that domestic animals, such as cats and dogs, are property. When a property is destroyed, the owner of the property is only entitled to fair market value or replacement costs.

In fact, the Indiana Court of Appeals examined the emotional loss that’s associated with the death of a pet and said: “As beloved pets have a certain “worth” or “value” beyond their market value, we do not take them to be support for the notion that under the law a dog owner may recover more than the fair market value of the dog when killed.”

The bottom line is a pet, such as a dog or a cat is considered to be personal property according to the law, and the damages of the destruction of your property are the fair market value at the time the property is lost.

Proving Emotional Distress in Pet Injury Cases

Proving emotional distress and mental anguish, along with other intangible losses when a person, cat, or dog are killed, is difficult. The law requires solid proof, which is expensive and extremely time-consuming to obtain. It generally will require expert testimony by a psychologist or psychiatrist that treated you, as well as co-worker testimony, neighbors, etc. who can say how the loss has affected you.

If the courts in Indiana and throughout the United States were to find that the loss or injury of a pet causes an injury to you, as the pet owner, the question that become obvious is how many people were living in the house with the pet, and how many of them are entitled to damages over the loss of the pet? This is a legal issue that may become more prevalent in the future.

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