Recent pet deaths prompt call for new compensation law

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Recent pet deaths prompt call for new compensation law Recent pet deaths prompt call for new compensation law

The deaths of three dogs at New Jersey PetSmart locations recently has prompted an attorney to call for more penalties against stores or people who abuse animals.

Although many pet owners say that they consider their animals to be members of their families, pets are only considered property under current laws. Pet owners can only recover the cost of their animal if it dies and not punitive damages.

But a New Jersey woman and her attorney hope to change this with the introduction of “Scruffles’s Law,” named for Danielle DiNapoli’s 8-year-old bulldog Scruffles who died in December after being groomed at a Flemington PetSmart.

The dog’s cause of death has not been determined. DiNapoli said that she had no recourse for her loss, so she hired attorney Daryl Kipnis, who wrote up the proposal for the law.

“It deters acts of animal abuse and negligence,” Kipnis says.

The law would allow a pet owner to file suit for economic damages that would include the value of the animal, plus veterinary and burial expenses. It also includes statutory damages of $10,000 and punitive damages for emotional distress.

Kipnis says that that key to the law is to recognize that a pet is more than property.

"I have a proposal here I think is very powerful and I think it protects the interests of animal owners, and recognizes the bonds between a family and a family pet,” Kipnis says.

Kipnis is now pushing his bill toward members of the state Assembly. He says he is looking for sponsors who would introduce it in Trenton so it can be considered as a law.

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