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June 20, 2004

Does It Start with Wrongful Death Suits?

Look. I'm not going to express the first thought that came to mind when I read this front-page article from the Providence Journal, because if I did, I'd be sure to raise ires all over the place. Nonetheless, that at which we laugh today tomorrow can bring our tears:

BEAVER, the animal psychologist who is president-elect of the American Veterinary Medical Association, says that years ago, the dog was "the protector of the farm. Then it became the dog in the backyard; now it's the dog in the house. And as we are living closer to them, their relationships with us become much closer."

And as the culture has changed, legislatures and the courts are now starting to amend the way they look at companion animals. Historically, courts have allowed a pet owner who brings a lawsuit to recover only the "market-value" of the animal. But in 2000, Tennessee became the first state to pass a law giving a pet owner the right to collect damages for loss of companionship. Two years later, Illinois passed a similar law. A bill has been introduced in the Colorado legislature to allow people to seek damages of as much as $100,000 for loss of companionship of a pet.

Ah-hum. Read the whole article for a more-thorough sense of how creepy this could get.

Martin Grace quotes the part of the Projo piece that hints at the leap from "clearly... not a relative" to, well, I guess to "close enough."

Posted by Justin Katz at June 20, 2004 12:14 PM