FOX News Poll: Penalties for Poisoned Pets

While half of Americans think poisoning a person is more serious than poisoning a pet, quite a few people think the poisonings are equally as serious. Furthermore, about a third think the company that sold tainted pet-food products resulting in the death of family pets should face criminal penalties in addition to financial penalties. These are some of the findings from the latest FOX News Poll.

Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from March 27 to March 28. The poll has a 3-point margin of error.

While many people consider their pet to be a member of the family, half of Americans (50 percent) think it is a less serious offense to poison a pet than it is to poison a person.

Many, however, think it is just as serious to poison Fido, as it is to poison grandma (38 percent). And 8 percent say they think pet poisoning is actually more serious than poisoning a person.

Click here to view the full results of the poll (pdf)

Opinion on the appropriate penalty for pet poisoning is fairly evenly divided: 27 percent support reimbursing the owner for the cost of the pet, 26 percent think the owner should receive reimbursement for the pet as well as payment for pain and suffering, and 31 percent think the company should face criminal charges in addition to paying monetary damages. Views among pet owners and non-pet owners are essentially the same.

"Newspaper reporters always say they get more calls and letters about an abused animal than about an abused child," comments Opinion Dynamics chairman. "This survey just confirms how attached many Americans are to their pets."

More than half of Americans currently have a dog or cat. Three of 10 (30 percent) have a dog at home, 12 percent have a cat and 18 percent say they have both.

Many brands of cat and dog food manufactured by Menu Foods of Ontario, Canada, were recalled after pet deaths. Last week the company said an investigation found that rat poison was in the pet food blamed for the deaths. Menu Foods said it would pay for pet medical bills that resulted from the tainted food.

What is fair payment for a family pet that died after eating tainted food? Some 22 percent say less than $1,000 is reasonable; 24 percent think it should be between $1,000 and $10,000; and 14 percent think it should be more than $10,000.

And sure to please personal-injury lawyers, 3 percent of Americans think it would be fair and reasonable to ask for a $1 million or more to pay for the death of their pet.