Texas rejects animal companionship damages

George Will’s syndicated column today salutes the Texas high court for preserving the traditional common-law rule against damages for animal companionship and sentimental value, thus declining to jump off an emotionally alluring cliff:

Texas’ Supreme Court decided to distinguish between dogs and heirlooms “such as a wedding veil, pistol” — this is Texas — “jewelry, handmade bedspreads and other items going back several generations.”

Noting that the Medlens “find it odd that Texas law would permit sentimental damages for loss of an heirloom but not an Airedale,” [Justice Don] Willett rejoined that it would be even odder if Texans could recover wrongful-death damages for the loss of a Saint Bernard but not for a brother Bernard.

Laconically noting that “the law is no stranger to incongruity,” Willett explained that “permitting sentiment-based damages for destroyed heirloom property portends nothing resembling the vast public-policy impact of allowing such damages in animal-tort cases.”


  • My neighbors were burglarized last week. Among the things missing was their cat.

    It’s a shame that the crime isn’t considered a more serious one because of this. The jewelery that was taken has more value in the legal system than the loss of Chairman Meow does, even though it’s the missing cat that has them the most upset.

  • There is also the question of what happens in situations where a no-knock wrong-address raid results in the death of one or more pets because the SWAT team’s procedure is to shoot all dogs on sight.