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Change the Legal Classification of Pets

This petition had 641 supporters

Change the laws regarding our family pets so that they are legally recognized and considered to be Companions (any domestic animal under the care of a licensed medical professional or care giver), which are then afforded a higher level of legal recognition and not simply considered to be your Personal Property.

The laws, for the majority of the United States, state that your pet is considered personal property and as such if anything happens due to malpractice or negligence by a licensed veterinarian or other licensed care giver the pet owner has little to no legal recourse. The current legal classification of a pet makes filing a lawsuit useless because the courts will only see it as the loss of property and nothing else. The courts typically will only award the amount your pet cost (replacement cost) and perhaps cover some of the medical care fees. However, aside from that, the courts view losing your beloved pet as the same as having your TV broken by someones negligence and awarded money for its replacement.

In addition, the reason many people don't pursue legal action is because the laws work for the doctor or licensed care giver. Doctors encourage pet owners to form strong, lasting bonds with their pets so that they take care of them which includes bringing their pet to the doctors office for everything from check-ups to surgery. However, if the medical professional is negligent the laws also basically say to the negligent party, "Don't worry, you just have pay the "replacement" costs..." and most times nothing more for your beloved pet. They don't recognize the emotional distress that the negligence caused or the loss of companionship or anything else which a human would be entitled to were it a medical malpractice case for a person.

My goal is not to give the same rights to our pets as a human being, but to instead raise the legal responsibility for them to that of a Companion (any domestic animal under the care of a licensed medical professional or care giver). Under a Companion classification when and if a trusted, licensed medical professional does something either because they did not do their due diligence before a medical procedure, due to malpractice, or they were negligent in their care of a Companion which causes undue suffering or death, the licensed medical professional should be held to a higher standard than simply that of having to be accountable for "personal property" loss. Also, no pet is the same, there are many factors which should be taken into account, not only the "replacement cost" of the pet. Everything from special training to length of ownership should be taken into consideration as well as the age of the pet. All of which should hold weight when it comes to the laws. Some pets become much like children to their owners, so their loss as well is felt to be much like the loss of a child. Our beloved pets need to be truly recognized and protected by the laws which classify them.

Lastly, one of the other reasons why this issue needs to be brought to light is that, while a licensed medical professional may have to carry malpractice insurance, that insurance has not gone up in price for a decade. Why? Because it's rarely used for the simple fact that the negligent loss of a beloved pet only holds the same weight as that of a broken TV so there's no reason for an increase. Most policies cost under $200.00/mo and it's there - simply because they must carry it, but generally it's never used again because the laws are written in such a way that beloved pets are just personal property and nothing more. If the malpractice insurance policies reflected increases due to penalties which someone with a bad reputation may have then it would make it much harder for those people to remain in business as the costs to insure them would be too great. Whereas someone with a clean record would pay much less because they are responsible care givers. A decade with no actual changes within an insurance market says it all.

By creating this petition, I hope to not only raise awareness of the serious discrepancies between the legal classification of a pet and the true emotional value of a beloved Companion but to also change the laws in the United States to reflect that true emotional value of a beloved Companion as well.

Why is this Change important to me? 

We lost our 6 month old French Bulldog, Betty, a little over a month ago during her routine spay surgery due to the use of the drug Acepromazine (ACE). Betty was my baby girl, she went everywhere with me and she was so much the "child" I could not have. She allowed me that fleeting experience and for that I am forever blessed. After she passed we found out that French Bulldogs should never be given this drug. Her death was preventable which makes it all the more hurtful had due diligence been done prior to her surgery. One simple internet search provided everything the doctor would have needed to know and to make sure this routine procedure was just that - routine. Due to the laws as they are written, it is only a slap on the wrist should it be pursued legally, even though the loss of our beloved baby girl has torn an emotional hole in our family which we have yet to come out of. In addition, the fact that the laws are there to protect the negligent party, in these situations, only makes her death all the more tragic. There should be more accountability, if there was then perhaps the professionals we turn to and trust would take that much more care with the priceless and irreplaceable lives we put in their care.

Thank you for taking the time to read this petition.

In memory of Betty, may her legacy be one of Change.

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