Alba Law Office is dedicated to protecting the rights of all owners of companion animals. Under Florida law, your dog, cat, bird, etc. are only a piece of property. We are actively working with Florida lawmakers to change that. A companion animal is not and should not be regarded as only a piece of property like a toothbrush; it's a family member who loves unconditionally. If your companion animal has been harmed by a veterinarian, a boarder or a groomer, we want to hear your story!!
Did you know that under most state laws, your dog, cat, or other companion animal that you love and who loves you is only regarded as a piece of property?
Florida is no different. Under the laws of the state of Florida, your wonderful companion animal is just a piece of property; like a toothbrush.
You may ask, so what? Well, if your beloved companion animal is injured by a veterinarian, groomer or boarder, no law firm will represent you. Why? Because the animal is only considered property and therefore your damages are only as much as that piece of property would allow.
Under the law, property depreciates. Depreciation is the loss in value of a piece of property over time. This measure of value is contrary to the value we assign to our pets. But under the law, if your pet is injured or dies because of civil negligence of others, your pet has no value.
So, for example, your vet, boarder or groomer grievously injures your pet, they are responsible only for the property value of your pet at the time. So, if you have a twelve year old dog and your vet injures that dog, he is worth a nominal amount under the law, $10.
Common sense would tell you that's crazy! My pet increases in value year to year. But the law does not recognize that fact in the United States.
Other countries, including but not limited to France, New Zealand, Quebec, Slovakia and Brussels have recognized companion animals as "sentient beings."
Sentient beings means a creature that can suffer and feel pain. Unlike a toothbrush, your companion animal absolutely feels love and pain and therefore, should not now nor ever be regarded as a piece of property.
The veterinarian industry, especially has benefited greatly from the love that an owner has for their companion animal. They induce a very expensive relationship to keep your companion animal in the best of health, but when something goes awry, they fall back on the premise that you are owed nothing because your animal is only a piece of property.
The winds of change are in the air though. Illinois state house passed a law that would force divorce courts not just to divvy pets up between their “parents” in a custody battle, but to think about their well being, too. However, Alaska was the first state to recognize and amend divorce laws so that judges are now required to consider it in their judgments. They can also assign joint custody over an animal.
What's worse though is that in the state of Florida, veterinarians are specifically exempt from animal cruelty statutes. That means that there is no civil or criminal recourse against a veterinarian that has injured or killed your companion animal.
Companion animals; dogs, cats, birds, etc. do not have a voice, but you do! This premise that our companion animals are just a piece of property needs to change.
Dawn Alba, Esq. established Gary's Law in 2015 after the injury of her greyhound Gary during a teeth cleaning. Dawn worked with the legislature and had a bill drafted by Senator Jeremy Ring. We are still dedicated to working with the legislature to change the law regarding our precious companion animals.