TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey's Supreme Court says a loving pet might be worth more than the cost of replacing it but seeing a dog suffer a violent death is not the same as witnessing a close human relative be killed.
The court's unanimous ruling Tuesday affirmed a lower-court ruling that awarded Joyce McDougall $5,000 for the loss of dog Angel. The Maltese-poodle mix was mauled by another dog in Morris Plains five years ago.
The lower court ruled McDougall was entitled to more than the cost of a new puppy. But it threw out her claim that she should be compensated more because she witnessed her 9-year-old pooch's violent death.
The Supreme Court ruled emotional distress damages apply only if the person sees the traumatic death of a close human relative.