How Much Is a Pet's Life Worth? One Vet's Opinion

Some Gray Areas

Similarly — and this is critical (to me, at least) — an owner who has treated his pet like a “thing” all his life (i.e., a backyard existence, minimal vet care, no training, etc.) doesnotdeserve to reap benefits similar to those of owners whose pets are truly treated as members of the family and play a vital role as companions.

Though you might argue that every animal deserves to be defended on his or her own intrinsic merits, the reality is that, according to our current legal system, humans are the initiators, sufferers and, consequently, the beneficiaries of monetary awards. That’s why a pet who’s not lucky enough to have been cared for by a human can’t, by himself, claim a loss for his intrinsic value. (Not yet, anyway. But that may be changing, too!)

But all that’s just the opinion of one angry, banged-up pet “owner” who can’t stomach the thought of a driver getting away with murder just because my Violet is “just a dog.”

Nonetheless, there are plenty of critical-thinking, well-meaning, animal-loving people who disagree.

Many veterinarians, for example, sympathize with the loss of any pet but worry that raising the legal value of pets would result in higher veterinary liability insurance, which in turn could raise the cost of veterinary care and ultimately put pet ownership out of the financial reach of many people.

All of which makes it a heady subject for the courts, attorneys, veterinarians and pet owners to ponder. What's your opinion?

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