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Companion Animals Gain Legal Ground in California

The Court of Appeals has ruled that recovery cost for treatment and care of wrongfully injured animals is worth more than market value.


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California’s Second District Court of Appeals ruled last week that companion animals are fundamentally different from other forms of property. Previously regarded as property akin to inanimate objects with recovery capped at market value, those with animals who have been wrongfully injured are now able to recover “reasonable and necessary costs” toward treatment and care. During the ruling, national non-profit Animal Legal Defense Fund referenced the cases of German Shepherd Gunner, who was shot by a neighbor, costing his family more than $20,000 in medical expenses, and Golden Retriever Katie whose disastrous surgery left her internally injured and required more than $37,000 in emergency surgery. In reversing the limitation of damages, Justice Kathryn Doi Todd wrote, “The usual standard of recovery … is inadequate when applied to injured pets.”

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