Pets Are Special Property

While we know that animals are worth far more than only what we have spent on them, the court’s ruling is a positive step for companion animals.

The Second District Court of Appeals in California has filed an opinion that pet owners should not be limited to the market value of a pet who was willfully or negligently injured by another and may recover the “reasonable and necessary costs incurred for the treatment and care of the pet attributable to the injury.”

Typically, if an animal is injured or killed by another through that person’s willful or negligent act, the guardian of the animal is allowed to sue for market value of the animal only. The Second District Court of Appeals said in its opinion that a guardian may sue for costs of treatment based on the injury. The court did not discuss the subject of sentimental value of the animal. Many guardians feel their animals are worth much more than whatever they paid for them or have spent on them, but the court was focusing solely on the issue of the costs incurred because of the injuries the animals suffered at the hands of another.

Additionally, the court stated: “In California, the Legislature has recognized since 1872 that animals are special, sentient beings, because unlike other forms of property, animals feel pain, suffer and die. Civil Code section 3340 provides that ― [f]or wrongful injuries to animals being subjects of property, committed willfully or by gross negligence, in disregard of humanity, exemplary damages may be given. Laws criminalizing animal abuse underscore the Legislature‘s view that animals are a distinct and specially protected form of property.”

California residents, take a moment to thank the justices for their opinion.

The Honorable Kathryn Doi Todd,
The Honorable Roger W. Boren
The Honorable Judith Ashmann-Gerst
Second District Court of Appeals
Ronald Reagan State Building
300 S. Spring Street 2nd Floor, North Tower
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Tele. No.: 213-830-7000

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