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Is a Pet Worth More than the Property Value?

In 2009, the Medlen family brought $80 to the veterinarian to get their dog back. When they arrived, they found out that the vet had accidently killed their Avery, their pet dog. The dog had been euthanized by accident.

The family is understandably suing over this tragic incident. However, it appears that any damage award may be limited to next to nothing, because the dog was not worth anything as "property." In other words, because the dog had no actual market value, the defense is arguing that the victims are not entitled to anything. Ridiculous. But that's what the Texas Supreme Court is contemplating right now.

The lawyers for the veterinarians are skeptical about allowing any damage award for emotional damage. They argue that it will cause insurance premiums to skyrocket. One of the justices asked, "Where do we draw the line? Cats? Fish? Birds?" As a Kansas City, Missouri personal injury attorney, I believe that there should be no specific "line." Rather, emotional damage is emotional damage. Let a jury determine if the damage is real or not, not the legislature. Alas, the bond between a pet and its master is real and valuable. It's seems unfathomable to me that a veterinarian or anyone could so negligently kill something of high value to someone else, and not need to compensate for the loss they caused.