Can you sue someone if their dog kills your cat?

Pets are considered as a part of the family, gone are the days where cats are just pests controllers and where dogs are hunting companions. Millennials nowadays consider their pets as their children, a non-human who they did not create but would flip the world over if they are hurt.

Negligence or Purposeful: Damage Is Still Damage

In most states, legally a pet is considered a property. Pets are maintained, fed, and invested on. Like properties, if damaged, you can also sue the perpetrator due to negligence or purposeful hurting or killing of your unknowing feline friend.

It wasn’t on purpose but damage is done

Dogs naturally are hunters. They like to hunt little animals even without the intention of eating them. That is why it will not come as a surprise that they like to chase small animals like rodents, raccoons, squirrels and cats. That is why dog owners should be responsible enough to always put them on leash and train them. Dogs who are trained are less likely to be aggressive towards other animals.

If another animal injures your cat, you can sue the owner of the animal for damaging your property due to negligence.According to Gjeten, a writer on a website called NOLO, “In order to win a negligence lawsuit, you must prove that the defendant (the person you’re suing) had a duty to be reasonably careful, didn’t meet that duty, and—as a direct result of that negligence—caused harm to you as the injured animal’s owner.” Their pets are their liabilities. The dog’s owner usually shoulders the expenses like the hospital bills, medicines, or in worst cases they have to give you compensation to replace your cat.

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Paula Roemer’s success in seeking justice

Yofi was the name of Paula Roemers cat. She adopted Yofi when she saw the cat in Israel when she went there for a vacation. Yofi was dirty, malnourished and clearly thirsty. So she gave the pitiful cat some water and afterwards brought her into a loving home. Yofi tugged her heart in many ways. Roemer also had other animals at home, she had other cats and a dog. Her dog was well trained, and befriended Yofi right away.

Seattle Times reported that a judge awarded Roemer $45,480 for compensation in the cat’s death. Roemer sued a dog owner over the death of her beloved cat. It was reported that the cat, Yofi, was hanging around the backyard when the neighbor’s dog escaped through the huge gaps of her neighbors fence and mauled her cat. Roemer was apprehensive to sue at first because she was told that “it’s just a cat.”

Judge Barbara Linde thought otherwise, the court hearing concluded with the decision that “Roemer will receive $30,000 in replacement value of her cat, $15,000 for emotional distress, $90 to recoup the cost of having Yofi cremated, $80 in medical expenses and $24.12 in interest.”

As The Seattle Times reported, the dog owner, Wallace Gray, pleaded guilty to the charges. Gray served 21 days in jail and three months under house arrest in line with animal control violation. However, Gray thought that the sentencing was too harsh on him. He said in an interview with The Seattle Times that “cats eat birds and dogs eat cats.” Roemer later said that she values her feline and canine friends more than she values other people. She was frustrated and could have taken out her frustrations on the dog that killed her cat but she chose to take the higher road and sued instead.

Commonly Asked Questions

What are the instances that you can sue the dog owner?

Instances where you can sue for negligence:

  1. If your cat is inside your property and the dog trespassed
  2. If the dog is unleashed
  3. The dog has previous violent tendencies towards smaller animals
  4. If the dog is unsupervised while walking

How do courts calculate the compensation over the death of your cat?

According to Mary Randolph, an author of a blog called NOLO, enumerated the basis of courts in determining the compensation:

  • Cost of treatment/Veterinary bills-the owner of the dog will need to shoulder the medical expenses used to treat your cat. This will include veterinary doctor fees, medicines and others.
  • Pet worth-Randolph reported that there are three ways that courts will determine the worth of your pedigreed feline friend and these are:
    • Fair Market Value-this means that the courts will take into consideration how much the cat will be sold in the market. The considerations for this is the age, breed, health and pedigree of your pet.
    • Replacement cost-the court would also grant the pet owner a compensation to replace the cat. According to Randolph, this can probably cost higher than market value because this will take into consideration the training and accomplishment of the cat (in case the cat is a showcase cat)
    • Special economic value-The court will also consider the owner’s loss of earnings from the services if the cat is pedigreed, or the cat’s purpose is for breeding meaning that the cat owner is using the cat for stud service or for breeding purposes.
  • Sentimental Value and Loss of Companionship-for the non-pedigreed felines, the owner can also ask for compensation due to the loss of companionship and sentimental value. According to Randolph, a few courts are already taking a step towards recognizing that sentimental value can be an element in determining an animal’s value.
  • Emotional distress to the owner-the court will also take into consideration the emotional turmoil that the death of the pet has brought upon him/her.

What can I do to protect my cat from getting attacked?

One of the ways you can do this is by fencing your property. Cats are generally safer in their own backyard or front yard if it is fenced. You can also put your cat on a leash to train him/her.