Pet Law

Pet LawI started practicing Pet law and Animal law 20 years ago. I was one of the first lawyers in Florida and the United States to do so. I can honestly say all those clients; dogs, cats and horses are totally innocent. From 1996 until 2002 I wrote a legal column called entitled "Florida Pets in Court" in the Florida Tribune, where I discussed many topics including Florida Pet Lemon Law, Equine Law, and Animal Rights. I have been featured in news shows and other documentaries on television, and radio regarding pet and animal law.

Due to the over-whelming number of telephone calls in the area of Animal Law; I will no longer be able to offer free consultation. This Law Firm recognizes the current economic struggles that we all face and with that in mind for a small fee of $45.00, by credit card, I will consult with you regarding your pet law issues, for up to 30 minutes, or I will respond to your email of 200 words or less. If you choose to hire this Law Firm for your Animal law case, this $45.00 will be applied towards the retainer agreement. Please go to the On-line payment section of this website.

I represent families whose dog has been unlawfully shot by the police

Value of Pets in Tort Actions

Important Florida Cases:

  • La Porte v. Associated Independents, Inc. 163 So. 2d 267 (Fla. 1964)
    The Plaintiff’s dog was killed by a garbage-man who intentionally threw a garbage can at “Heidi” a dachshund. The garbage man laughed at the owner and left. The P sued, for her mental anguish over her dead dog and won Compensatory and Punitive damages. The 2nd DCA reversed on the issue of damages.

    The Florida Supreme Court reversed the DCA, and ruled the restriction of Pet loss to its intrinsic value in circumstances such as the ones before us we cannot accept. Without indulging in a discussion of the affinity between “sentimental value” and “mental suffering”, we feel the affection of a master for his dog is a very real thing and that the destruction of the pet provides an element of damage for which the owner should recover, irrespective of the value of the animal.

    What does it mean? The Plaintiff may recover for mental suffering caused by the death or injury of her companion where the Defendant acted maliciously or with extreme indifference to the rights of the Plaintiff.

  • Knowles Animal Hospital, Inc. v. Wills, 360 So. 2d 37 (3rd DCA 1978)
    Veterinarian left dog unattended in a cage on a heating pad. The dog suffered severe burns that were so bad that he had to be euthanized.

    The 3rd DCA permitted mental pain and suffering for the owner because the neglectful conduct of the Defendant amounted to a great indifference to the property of the Plaintiff.

  • Johnson v. Wander, 592 So. 1225 (3rd DCA 1992)
    Similar facts as Knowles. The 3rd DCA struck the Circuit Court’s Order transferring the case to County Court, since jury issues of gross negligence and physical and mental pain and suffering were present to achieve jurisdictional amount for the Circuit Court.

  • Paul v. Osceola County, 388 So. 2d 40 (5th DCA 1980)
    Animal Care & Control killed the Plaintiff’s 7-toed cat, which strayed, before 3 day waiting period expired. The AC& C worker then took the dead cat out to the road to cover-up the AC&C’s actions. The 5th DCA allowed the P-owner to amend her pleadings for mental pain and suffering by alleging malice or intentional destruction of the cat. The 5th DCA echoed the language of Supreme Court decision in La Porte.

  • Kennedy v. Bays, 876 So. 2d 1195 (1st DCA 2004)
    Suit brought by P-owner of a Basset Hound against a Vet. For Malpractice, which included emotional distress damages. The Circuit Court transferred the case to County Court; since emotional damages were not available, but only for the value of the Basset Hound. The P appealed to the 1st DCA who Affirmed the Circuit decision. The 1st DCA ruled that this matter is distinguished from La Porte; since LaPorte dealt with malicious conduct and not simple negligence. “The Impact Rule” precludes such recovery… The Impact rule requires physical impact prior to recovery for damages. The exception to the Impact Rule is based on: Foreseeability of the emotional injury; the emotional injury is likely to be significant, causation is straightforward; and it is unlikely that an exception to the rule would result in a flood of fictitious or speculative claims.

  • The Florida Supreme Court has not resolved the conflicts between these District Court Decisions.
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