Seattle Should Not Set Bad Precedent in Pet Case

By John W. Schedler, The Seattle Times

Seattle taxpayers are being asked to pay $60,000 to the owner of a dog that was accidentally electrocuted when he stepped on a metal plate connected to one of the city’s streetlights. As an animal lover, I have enormous sympathy for the dog’s owner. But as a taxpayer and lawyer who sees these types of lawsuits regularly, I ask, “What are the consequences of paying such high awards?”

As in many lawsuits over pets, the owner of the dog here is suing mostly for her pain and suffering stemming from the loss of her pet’s companionship. She purchased her dog, which was 6 years old at the time of the accident, for $200.

The law in Washington and virtually every other common-law state is clear on damages that are allowed and are not allowed in animal cases. Owners of animals improperly injured or killed can be fully compensated for their out-of-pocket costs, including reasonable veterinary bills and certain other expenses related to the accident. In addition, when the harm is done to the animal maliciously, an owner may collect other types of damages.

Read more here.