This week, the Delaware Senate Judiciary Committee passed an amended version of Senate Bill 258, which, as introduced, this bill that would have allowed a person to receive damages for both the veterinarian cost and care of a pet as well as damages for mental distress or emotional harm caused by the injury or death of a companion animal. As amended, the bill only addresses compensatory damages for loss or injury to an animal.
We encourage you to contact the sponsor, Senator Ernesto Lopez, to thank him for removing the non-economic damages language from the bill.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on Senate Bill 258 on May 4 (see AKC’s previous alert), but the bill was not advanced, as the committee recognized there were many concerns.
Working with a number of stakeholders, including the Animal Health Institute, and the American Veterinary Medical Association, AKC was successful in convincing sponsor Senator Lopez that allowing non-economic damages for pets calls into question the legal status of pets as property threatens ownership rights of pet owners.
The substitute version of Senate Bill 258 removes the non-economic damages language from the original bill. Additionally, the language limiting the dollar limit recoverable for compensatory damages to $15,000 was also removed.
The substitute version was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 11, 2022 and now awaits floor action by the full Senate.
AKC Government Relations will continue to closely monitor this bill and communicate with the General Assembly. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.