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Understanding the Georgia Supreme Court’s New Ruling on “How to Value a Pet’s Life”

dog taking his head out of the window

For many of us, our pets are part of our family.  They are involved in our everyday lives.  We rely on them for companionship and support, and in return, we make sure our pets receive the best care possible.  All these things considered, if anything happens to our animals, if they are injured or even killed, the results can be emotionally devastating.

The Georgia Supreme Court recently ruled on the valuation of pet injuries or untimely deaths.  In other words, how much money may be available to pet owners whose animals are injured or killed by another person(s).  The case, Barking Hound Village v. Monyak, involved the death of 8-year-old dachshund mix “Lola” after a stay at the Barking Hound Village.  Lola’s owners claimed the Barking Hound negligently administered medication to Lola, leading to her eventual death from kidney failure.  They asked the court for damages including veterinary expenses.  The Barking Hound Village claimed, among several items, that any damages should be capped at the dog’s “fair market value.”  (Under Georgia law, pets are considered “personal property” and not people).

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that a jury can decide how to value the life of a pet, based on 1) the animal’s fair market value, and 2) the reasonable expenses for medical treatment.  Jurors may also consider qualitative evidence, such as the pet’s character or temperament, but they should not incorporate the “actual value” of the pet to its owner (ex: emotional attachment).

Supreme Court Justice Hugh Thompson wrote that the subject matter of Barking Hound Village v. Monyak is “near and dear to the heart of many a Georgian.”  Indeed, the Court’s recent decision may have a profound impact on pet owners whose animals are injured or killed as a result of another person’s actions.  If you, or someone you know, has had a pet injured in an accident and needs help with a legal claim, give Atlanta Personal Injury Law Group – Gore a call today at (404) 436-1529.