Pet Owners Receive Emotional Distress Compensation

A California appeals court has ruled that pet owners receive compensation for emotional damages caused by intentional harm to their pets

By Monica Garske and Lea Sutton
|  Saturday, Sep 8, 2012  |  Updated 9:14 AM PDT
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Legal analyst Dan Eaton talks about why judges ruled pet owners should receive a financial award for the emotional damage caused when someone intentionally hurts their pet.

Legal analyst Dan Eaton talks about why judges ruled pet owners should receive a financial award for the emotional damage caused when someone intentionally hurts their pet.

A California appeals court has ruled that pet owners should receive financial compensation for the emotional damage caused when someone intentionally hurts their pet.

Just last Friday, a California appeals court awarded the owners of an injured dog $50,000 in emotional damages after their pet was allegedly beaten by a neighbor with a baseball bat.

Local legal analyst Dan Eaton says the Orange County case was serious. The dog – a miniature Pincher -- was so badly injured in the beating, the dog needed nearly $3,000 in surgery.

“One of the neighbors took a bat to the other neighbor’s dog - a 12-inch miniature Pincher who had crossed his boundary line. The dog ultimately required surgery,” explained Eaton.

Eaton says the ruling in favor of the dog’s owners sets a precedent for future cases involving someone who intentionally harms a pet. He says this decision will govern all future cases in California unless the California Supreme Court steps in.

“Before that there was a question of whether owners were limited to medical bills that resulted from intentional attack. Now California courts will have to allow the recovery of the sadness,” said Eaton.

For loving pet owners like San Diego residents Andrew and Ina Inman, the thought of someone harming their pets -- like the case in Orange County -- is horrendous. The Inmans consider their own two Australian Shepherds to be like family.

“That someone would actually intentionally harm a dog like that is very, very…it's painful to hear. Certainly would not want that to happen to any dog out there. Not ours or anyone else's,” said Andrew.

Andrew says he doesn’t favor courts awarding large monetary damages, but still believes this recent ruling sends the right message.

“Hopefully it does serve as some type of deterrent as people start to realize that people love their dogs,” he added.

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