Pets and Property

This post is a little off-topic.

Dog ownership isn’t about intellectual property and cases that crop up in the course of dog ownership are not about intellectual property, but there’s an interesting case brewing in Georgia for all those who love their dogs … cats … hamsters … goldfish … octopods … hermit crabs … animals. As an animal lover, I cannot resist posting about it.

An owner family spent many thousands of dollars on the care of their pet dachshund, who may have been given a drug in error by the kennel at which they boarded the dog. The dachshund eventually died of its injuries from that overdose, and the owners sued the kennel, demanding that the kennel pay the hefty vet bills for their beloved pet.

If the dog, not a purebred or service animal, were treated as the law habitually treats pets, the owners would be owed precisely zero in damages. But these folks argued that this dog was special to them, she was their friend, their companion, their family member; she was not just property and should not be valued as such.

The high court in Georgia is considering whether a pet — regardless of lineage or training — is worth more than its monetary sale value. How should damages to beloved family pets be decided?

Let’s hope Georgia makes the right decision and overturns centuries of case law that holds that a pet is nothing more than property, like a chair or a table.