The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

    Pets worth tears, not lawsuits

    By Bethany Peterson/editor-in-chief

    A Fort Worth family’s lawsuit is trying to break new ground.

    After a mistake at the shelter led to their dog being put to sleep, the family is suing for not just the market value of the dog, but the “sentimental value” as well, a much larger payoff.

    For the last 120 years, Texas courts have allowed owners to recoup only the market value of their animals.

    In this case, a lower court ruled the family was owed sentimental value too, but the case was appealed and is heading for the Texas Supreme Court.

    Now let me qualify that I’m not a cold-hearted animal hater. I own a beautiful, smart, very sweet and spirited horse. I spend hours grooming her, take her on long trail rides, cry on her shoulder after bad days and let my friends and family ride her.

    But there is a gut check in all this fun. Part of my boarding contract with the stable states how much money I authorize them to spend to keep her alive in case of extreme illness or injury. It was very hard to look at my horse and put a price on what she is worth to me.

    Family pets are no different. You feed them, play with them, live around them. If something happens to them, it affects your life and it probably makes you cry.

    But how far should this feeling of loss go? Not this far, anyway.

    Besides the boundless possibilities of abuse if the ruling becomes a state statute, this idea is just crazy.

    As an owner, I would be furious if someone’s negligence led to my horse losing her life or even being hurt, and I would want to see those responsible punished. That is justice.

    But I wouldn’t dream of seeking a monetary settlement for my hurt feelings.

    Money doesn’t prevent accidents from happening. The fear of larger suits this would put on caregivers if it goes through would only make caring for all of our animals more expensive, and I doubt it would increase caregivers’ level of attention  when doing their job.

    Money doesn’t replace the wagging tail, warm fur or deep purrs. Money is not the answer to everything, despite the modern trend.

    Money doesn’t help a sad child learn to accept the reality of life that includes mistakes and sometimes death.

    Money doesn’t mend a broken heart.

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