Frankie’s intrinsic value

In 2016, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed an amicus brief in support of a Florida resident suing an emergency veterinary clinic and the attending veterinarian for veterinary malpractice that allegedly lead to the death of her dog.


December 31, 2016

Work Type

Criminal Justice



Next Step

Case Closed

On an October evening in 2014, Florida resident Micheline Boutin brought her dog Frankie to the Saint Augustine Regional Veterinary Emergency Center, where a veterinarian diagnosed Frankie with gastric dilatation volvulus. This condition, commonly called “bloat” in dogs, is a life-threatening condition that progresses rapidly and requires immediate surgery.

Frankie died, and Boutin sued the veterinarian in state court. Her lawsuit alleged that the veterinarian waited more than four hours to begin surgery on Frankie, despite completion of all necessary testing, causing his condition to deteriorate and ultimately lead to his untimely death.

Boutin sought compensation for Frankie’s intrinsic value, but the case was dismissed. The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s brief supported Boutin’s appeal of the decision, and urged the court to recognize that the proper measure of damages for a dog is the dog’s intrinsic value to her owner.

In October 2017, the District Court of Appeal of Florida upheld the lower court’s dismissal.

Despite this disappointing result, some courts are starting to recognize the intrinsic value of animals in wrongful death and injury cases.

For example, a Washington state jury awarded Jim Anderson $36,000 in damages, including compensation for his dog’s intrinsic value, in his case against his neighbor who shot and killed his dog Chucky. In March 2016, an Oregon rancher was awarded nearly $250,000, including $100,000 for emotional distress damages, after three of his Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs were shot and killed by two brothers out hunting.

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