Under U.S. law, animals are considered the property of their human companions. With this classification, individuals are granted the right to own, use, and control their animal property as they see fit. To many, though, the relationship between man and his companion animal fits uncomfortably within the idea of property ownership. To these individuals, companion animals, such as dogs and cats, are more than property: they are best friends, confidants, and integral parts of the family. However, unlike certain familial relationships—such as that of a husband and wife or a parent and child—the bond between a human companion and his or her companion animal is devalued under tort law. When a companion animal is negligently or intentionally injured or killed, no matter how beloved the animal is to his or her human companion, the animal is still only viewed as property under the law. Because of the companion animal’s classification as property, emotional damages related to the bond between the animal and the plaintiff are unavailable, preventing those who have been harmed from fully recovering for their loss.
Recovering for the Loss of a Beloved Pet: Rethinking the Legal Classification of Companion Animals and the Requirements for Loss of Companion-ship Tort Damages
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