Pursuing a Fair Path for Pet Lawsuits
Kent D. McClure's Aug. 24 letter about Jeffrey Nanni's lawsuit argued that if people were allowed to "recover emotional loss every time a pet is injured," pets would suffer because of the increased cost of pet care. Had Mr. McClure carefully read the Aug. 17 Metro story "Court to Hear Va. Suit Seeking Damages in Chihuahua's Death," he would have seen that his concerns were unfounded, as Mr. Nanni's lawsuit seeks only to extend recovery to cases in which someone intentionally or recklessly injures an animal.
Limiting a pet owner's recovery for the intentional killing of his or her pet to its nominal replacement value -- which could be as low as $35 -- bears no relation to the actual harm done to the pet owner. This is why the Animal Legal Defense Fund -- the sponsor of Mr. Nanni's lawsuit -- is working nationally to ensure that pet owners are properly compensated for their loss. Allowing a pet owner to recover additional damages for the intentional or reckless injury of his or her pet would not raise the cost of pet care. Louisiana, Texas and Florida each first awarded punitive or emotional damages for companion animal harm resulting from intentional, reckless and even negligent acts in the early 1960s, but pet-related litigation has not substantially increased in the years since.
LANNY J. DAVIS
The writer represents Jeffrey Nanni in the lawsuit in Arlington Circuit Court over the loss of a chihuahua.