What to Do If Your Pet Dies in Kindergarten or Nursery

For people who travel frequently (or at least are used to) and have pets, part of planning a trip includes finding someone to look after their dogs or feline family members while they are away. Choosing a place to plant pets can be stressful as you have to weigh things like who will take care of the animals, how much it will cost, and if there will be some kind of nanny camera where you can check on your furry friend.

If you’re the type of person who deals with anxiety, when you always think about the worst-case scenario in a given situation, you’ve probably already thought (and worried) about what might happen if your pet dies in someone else’s house. … care. What are your legal rights in this situation? What laws apply? What happens when a case like this goes to trial? We spoke to several lawyers and animal behavior specialists to find out.

How are pets treated in accordance with the law?

There is no easy way to say this, but in most cases, pets are considered property. “Under common law in most of the United States, pets are considered property, like a car, a watch, or a piece of clothing,” said Lifehacker Morgan Richardson , family law partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP.

And, according to Ryan Raiffert , a commercial, corporate and transaction lawyer based in San Antonio, Texas, Ryan Raiffert’s Law Office, PLLC, because of the status of pets as property, their people will have the same remedies as in situations. where any other property was damaged. Typically, he says, this means the animal won’t be worth much more in court than what you paid for it or the money you spent on training.

According to Thomas J. Simeone , a personal injury attorney, if a pet is injured while in the care of another person, its owner can reimburse the cost of “repair”, which in this case will include veterinary and other costs necessary for the pet’s recovery. at Simeone & Miller, LLP, which has extensive experience with traumatized pet cases. He explains that in situations where the pet cannot be rescued, the owner is entitled to the pet’s “value” at the date of negligence, determined by researching the value of dogs of similar breeds of the same age and sex.

What about emotional damage?

But it is certainly widely known that pets are often considered part of the human family – that should make a difference, shouldn’t it? Nope. “You usually can’t get emotionally hurt,” Raiffert tells Lifehacker. “I wish it were different – my rescue dog is incredibly dear to me, mostly as a child – but this is generally the law.” In a similar vein, Simeone says that people with pets are not legally entitled to compensation for pain and suffering – both their own and those of pets – because the pet is considered “personal property” and not a living being.

However, there is a chance that this approach could change. In recent years, several courts in the United States have expressed a willingness to recognize that pets, while not humans, are fundamentally different from other forms of ownership, Richardson said. “The close relationship many owners have with their pets is not the same as how people feel about their clothes or cars,” she explains. “But this new approach, which could allow pet owners whose animals were killed in a kennel or kindergarten, to make claims, for example, due to emotional distress, has not yet been adopted.”

How could such a situation have happened?

Russell Hartstein, Animal Behavior Specialist and Trainer, Founder of Fun Paw Care, LLC , acted as an expert witness in cases where dogs were injured or killed in kindergarten or boarding school. As someone with experience in both animal behavior and dog training and childcare, Hartstein says he is all too familiar with the types of facilities that compromise the safety of pets. “I am well aware of the inherent drawbacks of these volume-based business models, which are done most of the time by ‘professionals’ without certifications or credentials in animal behavior,” he tells Lifehacker.

Hartstein explains that dogs are inherently dyadic – meaning that they thrive in one-on-one play groups that are structured specifically for their breed, size, energy level, age, sex, and personality temperament. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, dog boarding and kindergartens are dangerous for the dog,” he says. “And [pets] parents misunderstand [think] that their pet is happy when the pet is really stressed. Most of the health, emotional, physical, medical and behavioral problems in dogs occur in kennels and kindergartens. “

What legal questions arise?

“People have the right to have someone look after their pets while they are away ,” explains David Reischer, attorney and CEO of LegalAdvice.com . The kindergarten, kennels or accommodations then take on the responsibility of caring for the pets under their care, which includes such responsibilities as providing food and water, taking the pets to see the veterinarian, taking medication if necessary, taking the dogs for walks and providing them is companionship, says Reischer.

If a pet is injured or killed while in the care of a kindergarten, the caregiver may be responsible for compensating the pet’s person as a result of a civil action. “The law treats all pets as property and damage to injured or killed pets will count as monetary compensation,” Reischer explains. “Legal theories of property damage include handling, trespassing on movable property, or deliberately causing emotional distress. If the injury or death of the animal was not intentional, a criminal case most likely cannot be initiated. However, some states do have animal cruelty laws in which a person deliberately, maliciously and purposefully harms an animal. ”

What needs to be proven in court?

If a pet is injured or killed while in the care of another person, it means that the duty of care was violated as a result of negligence or reckless behavior. When such cases go to court, Reischer said, an assessment and analysis of the specific facts about the reasons why the pet was injured or killed must first be carried out. “If a pet is killed in a nursery or kindergarten, the owner must prove, first, that the nursery or kindergarten does not adhere to reasonable standards of care, and second, that their failure has resulted in injury or death of the pet,” Richardson explains. “The same legal standard will apply to dry cleaners that have lost or severely damaged your clothes, or a car repair shop that damaged your car.”

Ultimately, Reischer says the law does not provide adequate protection for pets killed in the care of another person. “Veterinarians have more responsibility for the pet than most other carers, but even if the pet is killed in the care of the veterinarian, it is very difficult to bring legal action,” he explains. “A person who brings a pet to another person for care unfortunately runs a significant risk that the law does not compensate for their killing.”

Should you hire a lawyer?

Over the years, several people have contacted Simeone after their pet was injured or died during landing. “Every time I explain that they can only reimburse the cost of any treatment or the ‘cost’ of the pet on the date [of their] death, they get upset,” he says, noting that this can also be the case. in situations where pets have been attacked by other pets.

However, as a rule, Simeone says that he is not involved in such cases, because the damage to which the person is entitled does not justify hiring a lawyer. Instead, they try to resolve the case on their own through small claims court or out-of-court negotiations. In other words, research the cost of a lawyer before hiring one for this particular type of case.

What to do before boarding a pet

Obviously, you never want to go on a trip preparing for something really awful to happen to your pet while you’re away, but there are a few things you can do before you leave that can help. First, Reischer recommends taking a few pictures of your pet’s health before sending it to kindergarten or boarding school (which is also handy to have anyway, in case your pet gets lost). If this is a case where you want to receive compensation for damages, you may need a “before” photo.

Additionally, in light of the limited harm available to people whose pet has been injured or died due to someone else’s care, Simeone says legally the best thing to do is to choose a pet nursery or babysitter carefully. … “With limited remedies, prevention is the best policy,” he says.


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