Animal Rights Facts: Animals are Property

much like women children and slaves used to be
animals are considered to be personal property by the law this classification not only means that animals
do not have legal rights but it also severely limits the remedies a person can expect to
receive if his or her pet is injured or killed it also affects how a person can provide for
a pet in a will or a trust and whether a person can share custody of a pet after a divorce currently every state but rhode island considers
an animal to be someone’s personal property rhode island treats pet owners as the guardians
of their pets though it is questionable how much weight this classification carries in a legal
sense this status is limiting in nearly all areas
of the law but none more so than in tort law for example if an animal is killed or severely injured
one cannot recover more than the fair market value of the animal as that is the remedy for the destruction
of chattel in most cases this means the cost one paid for
the animal there are two problems with this however first few would dispute that an animal unlike other
tangible property appreciates in value with time as in the case as is the case with most relationships the human animal bond becomes stronger
the longer one spends with the other second fair market value varies widely even among
animals a puppy from a breeder might cost two thousand
dollars depending on the breed whereas one in a shelter is the cost of adoption usually
two to four hundred dollars how can a judge rule that an adopted puppy is
not worth as much to the pet owner as one purchased from a breeder another area in tort law where we see the limit
of this classification is in recovery for infliction of emotional distress the law does not recognize this cause of action
for injuries done to animals because of their property status this means that even if you witness people
intentionally abusing tormenting and seriously harming your pet you can get nothing more than the cost to
repair which ironically can be three or four fold
the fair market value of the pet many times pet owners want to be sure that
pets are well cared for after the owner dies because property cannot be the beneficiary
of a will the owner must then leave bequests to a person or organization to care for his
or her pet the law however will not enforce this and the
owner must choose someone whom he or she trusts will carry out his or her wishes fortunately to date thirty seven states have
enacted a law that allows an owner to set up a pet trust for the animals benefit finally as seventy five percent of pet owners
consider their animals to be part of their families custody issues are now arising in
divorce cases whereas the courts use a best interest
standard to resolve custody in visitation issues of children there’s no equivalent standard
for animals simply because they are property although few courts will consider the pets
best interest for the most part the dispute is decided upon which party bought the animal or
whether it was a gift from one party to the other

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