People have always found a need for acceptance, generally amongst their own kind, but there has been a growing continuance of extensive relationships in our country for a while now with pets. Doctors can grant pet owners prescriptions for having their pet as an emotional necessity, they can be trained as a therapy animal, or even instructed as a service dog. No matter where you go, pets play a vital role to the economy, almost as much as human children. Driving down the street, you can generally see one pet affiliated store in any given plaza; pet stores, grooming, training, kennels, and even massages for your pet.
Now, the idea of the ‘person-hood’ of animals is coming to an issue of legality. A court in New Jersey recently prohibited a woman from suing the owner of a larger dog that attacked and killed her poodle mix. The woman sued for nearly $1400 in replacement costs, as well as for emotional distress. Emotional distress is generally reserved for cases involving the deaths of people, and the Supreme Court judges affirmed this 5-0 in their decision. Their logic followed this course; a dog is not a person, no matter how close you get it. Even though this side of her case was shut down, the judge awarded her $5000 (which is nearly almost four times the value of the dog).
You might be startled by this decision, but consider this, closer to home this isn’t the case. Judges in Florida, Louisiana, and Hawaii have permitted claims of emotional distress for animals. In Florida, a dog that was being cared for in a vet’s office, was negligently left on a table with a burner, and suffered severe burns which led to the animal having to be put to sleep. $13,000 was awarded to the family on the grounds of emotional distress. Have pets become an integrated member of our families? Of society?
There are a growing number of pet friendly restaurants, shops, and other venues. You can take your pet with you on airplanes, and there are even dog beaches and parks where you can pamper your pooch. But, who could ignore the financial benefits to having a dog over a child? The average cost of a dog would be well under the average total of $8,170 that Babycenter.com estimates it costs to raise a child. Not to mention the level of commitment needed is significantly less for animals than for children.
Animal care has become a growing industry in our country, and not without good reason. The pet industry continues to thrive regardless of economic recession, and services such as pet grooming and dog training continue to be growing professions with little start-up costs but growing demand. Are pets replacing human children?