NJ Pet Loss Law Advances

The NJ legislation that would allow people to sue for emotional damage in cases of pet loss has advanced. It’s not yet approved, but new details have been released.

The bill would allow pet owners to seek a wide range of compensation, including:

  • Replacement value of the animal at current dollar value
  • Veterinary expenses incurred in treating the animal
  • Burial or cremation expenses
  • Reimbursement of animal training expenses
  • Any unique or special value of the animal, such as when the injured or dead animal is a guide or service animal or a show animal
  • Loss of companionship up to $15,000

We hope that other states adopt similar legislation allowing for the value of companion animals as companions — not just property.

22 Responses to “NJ Pet Loss Law Advances”

  1. Debbie4747 says:

    It’s about time such laws go into effect. Ironically, there are still people that consider feral cats as vermin and quite often do nwhat they can to have them removed from an area, despite the lives lost. Sure wish there were laws to protect them and to help them as well. I can understand the shelters and rescue groups being filled, but there are so many out there that will hamper those that TNR or just feed these homeless animals.
    I am glad though that we are getting somewhere with our own pets protection.

  2. YaYa says:

    Holy Moly! I don’t know what else to think right now!

  3. 4lgdfriend says:

    Paul Krugman NYT Fear of Eating

  4. Elaine says:

    This is exciting news. Too bad there’s a cap, though.

  5. purringfur says:

    The law should be retroactive as well!

  6. Kathy Hash says:

    This is a very bad bill for everyone. New Jersey is a very animal rights friendly state. The have already passed many laws aimed at changing the definition of pets to human and owners to guardians. We do not need to do that in order to bring justice to those who suffered losses due to tainted pet food. The pet food safety act is also proposed. http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2.....171_I1.HTM Wouldn’t it be more productive to take steps toward preventing this from happening in the future, rather that allowing animal rights opportunists with an agenda to end pet ownership to capitalize on people’s grief and set a president for personhood?

    While I have no problem with being able to sue for sue for the value of the animal, replacement costs and the expenses caused, getting into the slippery slope of loss of companionship (which is consortium in legal terms) and emotional distress, is very dangerous ground. In most states spouses may sue for economic damages when their partner dies in an accident, but they can’t sue for the loss of the relationship. ALDF has said “Everything we are doing lays the foundation for the one day when animals will have rights” I expect that if this law is passed, it will be challenged as unconstitutional and then pet owners will receive nothing.

    Last year the AKC opposed and bill introduced by Neil Cohen which would have virtually eliminated responsible hobby breeding in the state of New Jersey. Link http://www.akc.org/news/index.cfm?article_id=2974

    This is the AKC’s position on personhood for dogs.
    “Guardian” v. Owner
    The American Kennel Club supports the use of the term “owner” rather than “guardian” when referring to the keeping of dogs. The AKC believes that the term guardian may in fact reduce the legal status and value of dogs as property and thereby restrict the rights of owners, veterinarians, and government agencies to protect and care for dogs. It may also subject them to frivolous and expensive litigation.
    The term guardian does nothing to promote more responsible treatment of dogs. We strongly support efforts to educate the public about responsible dog ownership to ensure that all dogs receive the care, love, and attention they deserve.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Xshakez Headx

  8. ann says:

    An old friend of mine one told me that “animal” ownership was a prividge, not a right. It is a privildge and because it is, we have the responsibility to care for our furbabies and provide them with the best care possible. This also means for speaking for those that can’t speak for themselves. If we have legislation that makes manufacturers and importers think twice, the industry would take better care of regulating itself. If there were laws that allowed for pet food manufacturers to be sued this whole thing would not have reached this extent. 15,000.00 may not seem like a lot of money, but if you multiply that by the average number of pets per household, and multiply it by the number of households, that amount could pull a company down to its knees.

  9. bosley says:

    It is a start in the right direction , isincerely doubt we ever get any one to grant us guardianship ,We will be doing good to to get all states to follow N>J> and as far as AKC and all of them ,They are not our friends ,are against Breeding in any form any more California is learning that the hard way We ALL better get ready to back our good breeders ( and I dont mean BACK YARD PUPPY MILLS -I mean show DOGS of great quality are limited breeding ,with the food killing off our fur babies and then no mote great breeding of show dogs ,would be soon gone forever ,if they get there way ,WHY ,havent fiqured that one out yet seems they have big money to lose ? but who knows why look at this mess ( they didnt care and still dont

  10. Steve says:

    Kurt Gallagher, a spokesman for the Pet Food Institute, a Washington-based trade group representing the pet food industry, testified in opposition to the proposal.

    He said the bill imposes stricter human food standards on pet foods, and that the $15,000 cap on pain and suffering damages is too high.

  11. Kathy Hash says:

    bosley Says: as far as AKC and all of them ,They are not our friends ,are against Breeding in any form any more California is learning that the hard way

    The AKC is very much opposed to the CA manditory spay/neuter bill. http://www.akc.org/canine_legi......cfm#voice
    They are lobbying against it. Where did you get the idea that AKC is against breeding? Nothing could be further from the truth.

    bosley Says: We ALL better get ready to back our good breeders. I mean show DOGS of great quality are limited breeding.

    Show breeders strongly oppose guardianship, manditory spay/neuter and breed bans.

  12. Beth says:

    In response to Bosley and his comments about the AKC:
    Dogs are the lifeblood of the AKC. The number of new AKC Breeds has increased in the 15 years that I have had show dogs. Recently the AKC sent out a survey (which might still be visiblie on their website,
    www. AKC.org) asking our opinions on having a “mixed breed registry” as part of the AKC.
    Also, the AKC was in opposition to the CA bill for mandetory spay/neuter at age 4 mos.
    No dogs, no AKC

  13. Leslie k says:

    There’s a good reason why the AVMA is against changing the status of pets. None of the changes protect vets from frivolous lawsuits. They would soon be paying the same outrageous insurance as doctors. All that will accomplish is putting animals medical care out of reach for the average family. Any changes need to be carefully worded or they could end up hurting the animals they were meant to protect.

  14. Pierre - A Cat From France says:

    The key to making sure this never happens again is to make sure that Menu Foods pays punitive damages. In “Menu Foods Expects To Oppose Class Action Certification; Offers To Settle Individually” The Cat Gergiev writes on how Menu Foods is offering to settle with cats and their human companions as a way to avoid going to court and facing a huge award of punitive damages. Cats and their human companions should follow The Cat Gergiev’s advice and seek legal counsel before settling and letting Menu Foods off the hook.

  15. Jenny Barkley says:

    I am all for this bill. The people who wrote this bill had a lot of guts to stand up to the pet food companys. I think we should all e-mail and thank them. Don’t you think people are watching Itchmo and we are talking about guardianship instead of this bill. I’m for the AKC but this bill is not about them and they didn’t stand up to the PFI or pay any vet bills for the people. The AVMA did not stand up to the PFI before or after and they didn’t offer any advice except keep feeding the PFI food and don’t do home cooking. Later they said you could buy a $40.00 book or go to a web site that charged they could at least given out a simple medical diet till people had a chance to figure out what they where going to do.

    We all have ben scared and crying for a long time. I live in Pa. but I realy think we should be supporting the people in NJ. Haven’t most of us been praying the states and gov. would help us. If and when this guardianship bill ever comes up we can look at it and if we all don’t like it we can take it on then.

    I am praying that the gov. in all states will start helping us. Our pets are worth a lot more to us than $5,000.00. I am sick and tired and mad at some people saying its only a dog or a cat. If our babies had a $ value they would be a lot more afraid to sell us garbage and the UGLY FDA would have to say a real # of deaths instead of just using the PFI # like good little boys. The media and newspapers would have covered this a lot more if we had real # and a value to our pets.

    People have had to put down their babies because they didn’t have the money for vets. People are in debt because of the very rich PFI. Children had to watch their pets sick. We need laws to help us, it is time for the gov. to do their job and help American people. I don’t think some of these pet foods after they clean up will stay clean for very long, they will be back trying to make as much money as they can.

    If this guardianship bill ever does come up and is as bad as some of you think I and I bet everyone on Itchmo will be fighting it with you. Lets for now be happy for the people of NJ that some of their elected gov. is standing up for them and they might get some help.

    I don’t mean to offend anyone but I fell very strongly about this and I think the PFI and so far our gov. has

  16. Jenny Barkley says:

    has !!!!!!! us.
    Sorry that didn’t come though.

  17. Kathy Hash says:

    Jenny- There are 2 bills in NJ
    The Pet Food Safety Act (which should be supported)http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2006/Bills/A4500/4171_I1.HTM

    And this one for guardianship (which should not). Even though it does not say the word, that is what it is and that is why we are talking about it. Loss of companionship and emotional distress can only be awarded to a spouce, parent or guardian, never and owner.

    link http://www.naiaonline.org/arti.....la_law.htm
    “Innocuous on its surface, the guardianship movement is another step in the long-fought battle waged by animal rights activists to end human use and enjoyment of animals. The current strategy attempts to convert the love people have for their pets into legal standing for animals.”

    It is very difficult to understand this consept for the average pet owner. The NAIA, the American Kennel Club, the Cat Fanciers Association, The Animal Councils, the Veterinary Medical Associations, the Federation of Dog Clubs and many other real animal welefare organizations whose members already practice and promote responsible pet care oppose guardianship because it means ending pet ownership and breeding.

    We need regulation for food, not animal rights.

  18. Jenny Barkley says:


    I’m reading all about this. It will take some time, will get back to you tomarrow.

  19. Jenny Barkley says:

    Kathy Hash

    A couple of questions so far about NJ Pet Food Safety Act. (1) Wasn’t NJ Dept. of Agriculture already in charge of regulating commercial feed and if so did the livestock get bad pet food? If they where and did how would it help having them in charge of pet food? Nobody called wolf until our babies got sick. I kinda believe the livestock was getting bad food for a long time too. Just what I think.

    I didn’t see anything about truth in labeling. Is there a penalty for false labeling? Does the label have to say everything that is in the food?

    The fines seen to be pennies for a big company. No question just me thinking. The other bill would shure put a hurting on bad food and realy help people.

    I don’t follow Peta but have heard and read about them. I know they cause a lot of trouble sometimes. Have they ever won anything against household pets (except abuse) ? I think show pets would still be consided household pets. I’m having a hard time believing the law would make us release our babies to the streets, and they would have to kill my husband and myself before they could get them.

    You sound like a lawyer who knows about this so if you could answer any of these questions it would go a long way in helping me to make up my mind. I thank you very much for any information. I’m going to bed now. I will be reading some more & be on Itchmo tomorrow night.
    Thanks Jenny

  20. Kathy says:

    Jenny- I am not a lawyer and I don’t live in NJ so I can’t answer your specific questions. It is my understanding from reading the recent news on this, that laws regarding food safety and importation need updating and funding on state and federal levels. You seem to be saying it doesn’t go far enough, and I agree. I believe the proposed Federal bills do address your concerns.
    In general I support bills that strengthening regulations for all food safety (humans, livestock and pets), and toughen penalties for animal cruelty. I can not however, support a law that allows animals standing (rights) in the civil courts. Since a person can only sue for their own pain and suffering, the animal would have to be given standing as though it were a minor child. The owner would have to be given standing as a parent representing the best interest of that child. While we are all free to treat our pets as family members, call them furbabies and hold them is high regard we must accept that they are in fact animals. For example we could loose our right to end their suffering by euthanasia when we and our vets decide this is what is best. We can not and should not with humans.
    Have they ever won anything against household pets (except abuse) ?
    Yes. Many jurisdictions have laws that restrict owners rights. Pit bull bans are a big thing. There is a law moving through right now in California that requires mandatory sterilization by the age of 4 months for all puppies and kittens. How will they know if you don’t comply? In the background there is a company called Petdata with close ties to the HSUS that is doing the (outsourced) licensing of cats and dogs for counties across the country. What people don’t seem to realize is that when you get a rabies shot for your animal and they issue a tag, the vet must report certain information about the owner and the animal. Petdata is not holding that info. confidential. Anyone can buy it and know a lot about you and your pets, like their reproductive status. Will people stop getting rabies vaccines to keep their info private? Would that be considered cruel and cause for removal as guardian? The whole thing just opens up a whole Pandora’s box of scenarios. We don’t need to sacrifice our rights for safe pet food.

  21. Jenny Bark says:

    Thanks Kathy

    I didn’t know about the Pit bull ban. I know they have tried to do it in a lot of states including mine, but I thought they lost, just had to pay more home owners insurance. I like Pit Bulls and feed one every week on my mow route but I don’t let then around my babies until I know the owner and see how they have been taken care of. They are really good dogs that have been so abused. It’s a sin.
    I did not know about this bill in Calf. for sterization. I do not agree with it at all. I have 2 show dogs that I am not showing right now. I also have mixed breads and a kitty. If their is any way I can help fight this bill from Pa. let me know jennyart@verizon.net. I have a couple of friends & a family member in Calf., I’ll let them know about this so they can stand against this bill for sterilization.
    I don’t know much about the law but I was taught years & years ago that every word in a legal paper was important and in there for a reason. That advice given to me has always been a blessing and has kept me out of a lot of trouble. I don’t think the NJ pet Food Saftely Act does very much of anything to stop the PFI bad companys and I’ll do anything to fight them. I hope they rot in h!!!. what they did to all our babies and people is more than words can discribe. We should at least be able to buy good, safe food instead of them suffering and dying at our hands. The other bill I really liked because it would, in my opinion, put a stop to the bad ones and help the people of NJ a lot. If this bill is bad as you say because of damages I won’t support it. I have a friend who is a very good lawyer and I was suppose to meet her for lunch in about 2 weeks. I will fax both of these bills to her and meet her sooner for lunch. She will straiten me out. I was going to take this bill over to Mike Doyle and beg him to help since he is on the sub comittee but I’ll waite for my friend because I don’t want to do anything to hurt all of our babies.
    Thanks for all your information, time and help. You have been very kind.
    Till we talk again Jenny

  22. Kay says:

    I need a lawyer to sue Menu Foods. I had 2 of my precious babies die thanks to Menu Foods. Last year just before the story broke.

    Please contact me.

    I can FINALLY AFFORD a Lawyer

    Kay C. Carpenter

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