How Much is that Doggie in the Window Worth?

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An advocacy group for animals has drafted an amicus brief that argues pet owners should receive compensation for emotional distress caused by the loss of their animals.

Pet owners traditionally receive only the market value of a pet that is killed because of negligence, but change may be afoot, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports.

A Tennessee statute allows up to $5,000 in noneconomic damages for a pet killed or injured by negligence. And a pet owner in Washington state, in a default judgment last year, received $25,000 for emotional distress and $50,000 for the value of a cat killed by an aggressive dog, the paper reports.

The Animal League Defense Fund of Cotati, Calif., will seek to file the brief in lawsuits filed against the makers of tainted pet food.

More than 50 lawsuits seeking class action status have been filed following reports of pet deaths caused by food contaminated with an industrial substance called melamine.

“Human beings form intense emotional bonds with companion animals and are very likely to feel genuine and serious emotional distress when those animals are harmed,” the brief reads.

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