Pets are important parts of many families. But as far as the law is concerned, a pet is still just a thing, the Texas Supreme Court ruled on Friday.
In a lengthy opinion, which notes that "even the gruffest among us tears up (every time) at the end of 'Old Yeller'," the state court held that the death of a pet -- no matter how sad, how wrong or how important the animal may be -- cannot lead to a case of seeking damages for an emotional loss.
"Pets are property in the eyes of the law, and we decline to permit non-economic damages rooted solely in an owner’s subjective feelings,” the court held. "True, a beloved companion dog is not a fungible, inanimate object like, say, a toaster. The term ‘property’ is not a pejorative but a legal descriptor, and its use should not be misconstrued as discounting the emotional attachment that pet owners undeniably feel.”
The death of a pet, the court goes on, “is limited to loss of value, not loss of relationship,” Justice Don Willet wrote.