In Florida and throughout the United States, dogs are considered part of the family. I read a recent story about a hunter / veterinarian (John A. Farah) who shot the dog of a woman (Teresa Wingate) in Nassau County Florida. Apparently, the dog slipped under a fence and Farah shot the dog. Farah initially denied the shooting to try to avoid responsibility. He was later arrested for animal cruelty and aggravated assault. Law & Disorder – Vet Charges in Shooting of North Florida Dog.
Civil monetary damages can be pursued for the death of an animal by a shooting or other reckless behavior. Florida law generally provides that a dog is like a piece of furniture. If a dog dies as a result of simple negligence, the damages are limited to the value of a dog. In other words, a dog owner can collect that it would cost to replace the dog versus what the dog meant to the owner. On the other hand, if the death of the dog was purposeful, reckless, or malicious in nature, a dog owner can pursue damages for the associated mental pain and suffering associated with the death of a dog. As many of you are dog owners, you know how special a dog can be. The dog is a family member. In my house, the dog rules the house. She sleeps where she wants. Eats what she wants even when the food is not meant for her.
What a tragic loss for Ms. Wingate and her family.
If you have a questions about the death or injury to a dog or any other incidents involving a dog, you should contact an attorney to discuss your respective rights. Please be aware up front that the conduct needs to be reckless to recover more than just the purchase price for the dog.