Friday, December 4, 2009

Why is a dead chihuahua worth $30k?

If you've ever lost a family pet, then you know the pain that comes with that loss. Now imagine that someone else is responsible for poor fido's demise. According to an article by Peter Lewis in MSN Money, there's a growing movement to recognize the intangible value of pets and to seek redress for their untimely death:

Courts usually don't agree because the law doesn't allow them to. In fact, a pet owner typically can't recover much more than out-of-pocket expenses when an animal is injured or killed due to some one's negligence. Current practice is to value pets at what they would cost to replace, the way insurers put a price on used cars.

But the article points out several cases where people successfully sued for damages. For example:

In 2002, an Oregon jury awarded $136,000 to a family that lost four dogs to a neighbor they alleged had poisoned them because he was fed up with their barking.

In a civil suit that went to arbitration in Washington state in 2008, three men were ordered to pay $30,000 after killing a Chihuahua named Tia. The men had been drinking, and one was asleep in a car when Tia, barking in her backyard, apparently awakened him. He shot her dead.

In 2007, Chicago settled with resident Calvin Hale after a police officer who ran through his property in pursuit of a suspect shot and killed his 10-year-old Akita, which Hale had raised since puppyhood. He received $27,500.

So what do these trends mean? Possibly higher homeowners insurance, veterinary bills and even leashes and pet food.