Next Tuesday, February 21, 2024, the New Hampshire (NH) House Judiciary Committee will hear public testimony on HB 1684, which seeks to expand the relationships eligible for “loss of consortium” damages.
Loss of consortium refers to the loss or impairment of the intangible benefits of a relationship, typically between spouses. When death or serious impairment is caused by a bad actor, a victims’ loved ones may be able to recover reasonable damages arising from their loss of consortium.
SUMMARY: Among expanding loss of consortium damages to close human relationships beyond spouses, Section IV of House Bill 1684 would:
- Entitle a pet owner to recover damages for loss or impairment of right of consortium involving the death of that person’s pet when caused intentionally or recklessly; and
- Diminish the award of damages based upon any fault for injury found to have been caused, in whole or in part, by the person claiming damages.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) opposes HB 1684, Section IV. Yes, dogs are such a beloved part of our lives that it is common for owners to consider dogs as part of the family; but allowing “loss of consortium” types of legal awards in cases involving injury to pets will have many unintended consequences, and may actually harm pets. It is crucial that animals continue to enjoy the protections afforded by their traditional legal treatment as property and not given legal rights reserved for humans. Details on how non-economic damages claims (including loss of consortium) ultimately harm general animal wellbeing can be viewed here.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: New Hampshire residents are strongly encouraged to electronically register your opposition by emailing members of the House Judiciary Committee. Although HB 1684 may be well-intentioned, consider sharing the following points:
- Section IV would newly categorize pets as legal family members instead of property.
- Property law protects pets by imposing rights and responsibilities on owners to provide care.
- Confusing the long-standing classification of pets as legal property would destabilize a criminal system that deters animal abuse; and promotes innovative, affordable, and quality animal care.
HOW TO REGISTER YOUR OPPOSITION:
- Email committee members using “Oppose HB 1684 Section IV” in your email subject line.
- In your email, identify what city/town you’re emailing from.
- Send your email to all members of the committee by copying the addresses below.
State Representative Bob Lynn, Chair – email@example.com
State Representative Scott Wallace, Vice Chair – Scott.Wallace@leg.state.nh.us
State Representative Katelyn Kuttab, Clerk – Katelyn.Kuttab@leg.state.nh.us
State Representative Joe Alexander – Joe.Alexander@leg.state.nh.us
State Representative Louise Andrus – Louise.Andrus@leg.state.nh.us
State Representative Shelley Devine – Shelley.Devine@leg.state.nh.us
State Representative Charlotte DiLorenzo – Charlotte.DiLorenzo@leg.state.nh.us
State Representative Jeffrey Greeson – Jeffrey.Greeson@leg.state.nh.us
State Representative Timothy Horrigan – Timothy.Horrigan@leg.state.nh.us
State Representative Cam Kenney – Cam.Kenney@leg.state.nh.us
State Representative Judy Lanza – Judi.Lanza@leg.state.nh.us
State Representative Zoe Manos – firstname.lastname@example.org
State Representative Ben Ming – Ben.Ming@leg.state.nh.us
State Representative Mark Paige – email@example.com
State Representative Kristine Perez – Kristine.Perez@leg.state.nh.us
State Representative Marjorie Smith – firstname.lastname@example.org
State Representative Walter Stapleton – Walt.Stapleton@leg.state.nh.us
State Representative Dave Testerman – email@example.com
State Representative Richard Tripp – firstname.lastname@example.org
State Representative Eric Turer – Eric.Turer@leg.state.nh.us
4. You may register your opposition on the New Hampshire General Court’s website available After providing your personal information, select the February 21 hearing date. Using the drop-down menus, select the House Judiciary Committee and 11AM HB 1684 in order to register your opposition to the bill.
5. You may speak in person at the February 21, 2024, House Committee hearing in Room 206-208 of the Legislative Office Building, 33 North State Street, Concord, New Hampshire 03301. Sign in to testify when you arrive. The hearing on HB 1684 starts at 11 AM.
For more information on these or other legislative issues in New Hampshire, contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at 919-816-3720 or email@example.com; or the Dog Owners of the Granite State at firstname.lastname@example.org.