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The Value Of Pets

So what is the family pet worth? Most of us would not sell the family dog or cat (or turtle or parakeet) for any amount of money, a view recently validated by an Illinois court.

The case involved a dachshund that was badly injured when it was attacked by a neighbor's husky. The dachshund's owners incurred almost $4,800 in vet bills in treating its injuries. However, when they tried to recover these costs, the trial court limited their recovery to just $200, which is what the evidence showed a pet dachshund was worth.

The court modified the judgment to allow the dachshund owners to recover the full amount of vet bills. In Illinois, pets are treated as property, and the general rule is that when property is damaged, the owner may recover the lesser of the cost of repair to the property or its market value.

However, the court found that this rule should not apply to family pets, because reasonable people know that pet owners "feel compelled to pay considerably more than a nominal amount for veterinary care" and that they "are prepared to make great sacrifices for the well-being and continued existence of their household pets, to which they have become deeply attached."

Based on this finding, the court held that pets should be treated like heirlooms, photographs, and other kinds of property that have little market value but that have great personal value to the owner. Here, the fact that the dachshund owner was willing to spend $4,800 to save the dog's life showed the dog's value, and so the entire amount was ruled to be recoverable.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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