The Value of Doctor's Best Friend

Physician's Money Digest, September 2007, Volume 14, Issue 9

It's often said that having a pet can provide health benefits as well as emotional benefits. Pets enhance our lives, teach our children responsibility, offer unconditional love, and provide companionship. However, currently the law does not recognize the important impact pets have on our lives.

Sparked by the wave of pet illness and death due to contamination of pet food in early 2007, lawmakers are examining what rights pet owners have when it comes to legal compensation. Pet advocates insist that the laws regarding pets are outdated and don’t represent the roles animals play in modern-day society. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Americans spent nearly $39 billion on food, supplies, veterinary care, and other services for their pets. The cry from animal advocates demands that the law recognize the growing importance of pets and be amended to award owners compensation when negligence causes the death of a loved pet. Some states have already heard the call. Cruelty to animals is a felony in 42 states, and a Tennessee statute allows for compensation for loss of a pet's companionship. But the process of change is slow.