Court of Appeals permits suit for damages for dead dog.

The Fort Worth Court of Appeals has issued a ruling permitting a dog-owner to sue for damages against the animal control employee who negligently euthanized their dog. The dog escaped from its yard and was picked up by animal control. The owner went to reclaim the dog but did not have enough money with him to pay the fees. The animal control officer told him the dog would be tagged and held and would not be euthanized. The employee put the dog on the euthanize list anyway. The dog was killed before the owner could go back and claim it. The dog owner sued the employee for negligently killing the dog. The Fort Worth Court of Appeals held that case law determining that dogs are items of property is outdated. The Texas Supreme Court has held that damages may be recovered for damage to items of sentimental value. So, based on the sentimental value that a family pet has, damages can be recovered for loss of the pet.

So, it would seem that this case opens the possibility for a family pet to be considered as more than just an item of personal property. Maybe the case doesn’t go so far as to support an order for split access to the pet, but it would seem that the spouse who doesn’t get awarded the pet might could request compensation for loss of the sentimental value.

Plowing new ground as Texas divorce lawyers is what O’Neil & Attorneys does best.

 

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.