Suffolk Law School

Barking Up the Wrong Tree: Companion Animals, Emotional Damages and the Judiciary’s Failure to Keep Pace


Professor DeFabritiis discusses her article on companion animals soon to be published in the Northern Illinois Law Review. Download the article.

  • Thomas Nicholl DVM, JD

    As an equine veterinarian for many years, the law’s treating of animals as property was often of no consequence to my old clients as the value of the animal is great. There is, however, an incredible bond between owners of companion animals and the animals themselveves, as I personally know and has been confirmend on multiple occasions by my colleagues in companion animal practice. The law does not address this issue, as the value of a 10 yr. old mutt is negligible. Therefore I support states which acknowledge the attachment and award damages that are not economic only in nature. There are only two states that I know of that have such statutes, and the damages in both are capped. As regards punitive damages, at least in Florida, these are always available for gross negligence, or intentional acts. The intrinsic value of a pet, to surpass its economic value, has also been argued successfully.