Pet owners who witness their animals being killed by another creature cannot seek damages for emotional distress, a New Jersey appellate court has ruled.
The decision issued Friday came in the case of a woman whose small dog was mauled to death in Morris County in June 2007. She was walking it when a larger dog grabbed it by the neck and shook it several times.
The woman sought emotional distress damages in December 2009, likening her dog’s death to the loss of a treasured family member.
Such damages can be awarded if people witness a close family member’s traumatic death.
But she got $5,000, mostly for the replacement cost of her dog. The judge found she was not entitled to the damages sought because pets are considered property for which only economic damages may be sought and awarded.
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