Damages Recoverable for the Death of a Companion Animal?

Posted on December 2, 2011

By Randy Turner and Lisa Turner

Co-author Lisa Turner is the president of the Texas Wesleyan SALDF chapter.

This article appeared in the November issue of the Texas Bar Journal, which was devoted to animal law.

A careless kennel, a negligent veterinarian, or a vindictive neighbor killed your client’s beloved family dog or cat and the client wants to sue the tortfeasor. What damages may be recovered? In 1891, the Texas Supreme Court held in Heiligmann v. Rose that when a dog is killed, “[t]he value of the dog may be determined by market value, if the dog has any, or some special or pecuniary value to the owner, that may be ascertained by reference to the usefulness and services of the dog.” Significantly, the Court did not address the question of what the proper measure of damages would be where a dog has little or no market value, but whose primary value is in sentiment. The court also did not discuss whether, or under what circumstances, a dog owner may recover damages for the sentimental or intrinsic value of a dog or other pet.

Read the full article.

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