In 2007, Joyce McDougall watched in horror as Angel, her nine-year-old dog, a Maltese-Poodle mix, was mauled to death by her neighbor’s dog. The New York Times reported on New Jersey Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this week. The court denied that watching one’s dog be killed is emotional distress, since the dog was not a family member or someone to whom she had a “marital-like bond.”
The New York Times article reported, “Under New Jersey law, people can sue for damages for emotional distress if they see someone close to them die, the court said. The right had been limited to close family members, and was recently expanded by courts to people with a marital-like bond.”
McDougall was awarded $5,000 in replacement value of Angel, but emotional distress damages were denied in the courthouse and in appeals.
I find it ironic that we train service dogs to be emotional assistance dogs for people with emotional distress, but if we watch our dog gets killed by another dog, it’s not considered to be emotional distress.
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