The law in United States categorizes animals as personal property. As a result, recovery of damages for the loss of a companion animal is often times the fair market value. This inflexible approach to companion animals fails to distinguish between personal property such as a chair and a beloved pet. Needless to say, awarding damages at fair market value serves as little or no deterrence for the tortfeasor. This is especially true in cases where the companion animal lacks pedigree or special training. However, some decisions have authorized human guardians of companion animals to plead and recover the “unique value” of the companion animal. Such decisions reflect a shift in the court’s view of companion animals, which acknowledges public policy concerns for the guardian of the companion animal. This article discusses the law in United States on companion animals and proposes legislative action in the state of Florida for the recovery of the “loss of companionship” for owners of companion animals.
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