A bill is moving in the New York Assembly that would require someone to pay for non-economic damages in cases involving the wrongful death of or injury to a companion animal. This would mean that in addition to the fair monetary value of the animal and veterinary bills, a person would be liable for the loss of “society, companionship, comfort, protection and services” that were provided by the animal.
Assembly Bill 4749 has passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee and is pending in the Codes Committee, where it will be reviewed based on its form and constitutionality before being scheduled for a vote by the full Assembly. New York residents are encouraged to contact their Assemblymember and express your concern and opposition to Assembly Bill 4749. Visit the AKC’s Legislative Action Center and type your name in the “Find Your Elected Officials” box to get the name and contact information for your state Assemblyperson.
The AKC opposes the awarding of monetary damages in tort actions involving non-economic damages, (such as loss of companionship) related to a pet because such damages are not typically available for personal property. Allowing non-economic damages for pets calls into question the legal status of pets as property. The legal concept that pets are personal property protects pet ownership and the rights of pet owners. A change in the legal status of animals could result in restricting the rights of owners, veterinarians, and government agencies to protect and care for dogs.
For more information on the issue of non-economic damages, please read AKC’s issue analysis about Non-Economic Damages and view the Legal Status of Animals “Key Issue” page in the Legislative Action Center.
In addition to the AKC other organizations including the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Animal Health Institute both oppose laws permitting such recovery.
For more information, contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at (919) 816-3720, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.