How to Protect Your Pet from Harm, Negligence, and Abuse


Pets are more than just animals we keep around our homes and properties. Pets and livestock are members of our families and deserve protection from the reckless or unintentional harmful actions of other people. Thankfully, compassionate lawmakers and activists do great work to ensure that all animals are legally treated as property, and thus protected from any animal cruelty, neglect and improper actions of others.

The law treats all of our animals like property. Anyone who deliberately or carelessly hurts or injures your dog or cat will be held responsible for their actions. In this way, this is similar to if that person were to have damaged your car or any other property. This means whether it comes at the hands of a veterinarian or a regular person, inappropriate and harmful actions will not be tolerated and will have legal and financial repercussions.

Intentional Injury to a Pet

It is generally accepted across the United States that if anyone intentionally injures your pet they are financially responsible to you as the pet’s owner for the damages and injuries they intentionally caused.

Here is a list of a few of the common intentional acts resulting in injuries:

  • Poisoning
  • Shooting (With a firearm or pellet/BB gun)
  • Kicking
  • Being hit by a car due to reckless driving
  • A pet being stolen

Pet owners have the ability to sue those who have intentionally hurt or killed their pets according to several different legal theories which include theft, destruction of property, animal cruelty or even intentional inflection of emotional distress. But, these legal theories will only allow for a financial payout from the aggressor for the damage caused to the pet.

Courts often do not allow for emotional damages to be included in a payout, this means that the pet’s worth as well as any treatment needed will be used to determine how much money is owed to you as the pet’s owner to right the wrong.


As many pet owners already know, seeing a veterinarian is often just as expensive if not more expensive than a regular doctor visit for themselves. Due to this, the proper care and treatment of your pet following the careless or intentional actions of others will come with a high cost, just not to you so long as you have a qualified attorney on your side.

Those who intentionally harm a pet are liable for the damages they caused, but a court will not allow for excess veterinary expenses to be paid for by the person who harmed your pet. This means that a judge will only allow for “reasonable treatment”, and therefore it is extremely important that any and all veterinary expenses be well documented and all receipts and correspondence should be saved.

What is a Pet Worth?

When a judge is determining how much money is owed to a pet’s owner, they will use three categories to determine a pet’s value.

    • Fair Market Value: The fair market value is how much it would cost to purchase another dog who is similar in purchase price, breed, health and age.
    • Replacement Cost: In addition to the cost of purchasing a similar dog at fair market value, other costs such as training and neutering/spaying can also be added on.
    • Special Economic Value: You can receive more money if your pet was a prize winning show animal or a support animal.

When a Pet is the Aggressor

Humans are not the only ones whose actions against animals can and will have legal and financial repercussions. In fact, other pets or even service animals can be the aggressors whose bite or attack can cause serious injury, pain and even the death of both animals and humans.

Arizona is considered to be a strict liability state, which means that according to A.R.S. 11-1025 the owner of a dog who bites someone can be held liable for any injuries and damages their dog caused regardless of the owner’s knowledge of their dog’s aggression or their own negligence. The liability is not limited to the harm of humans.

Arizona’s strict liability rules ensure that the owners of reckless animals who injure someone or someone’s property are liable for the damage that their animal caused. As was said earlier, pets are more than just animals we keep around our houses, they are legally considered to be our property and therefore have certain protections.

Since pets are considered to be property, they are given legal protections similar to those of other things such as cars and houses. Since pets have been determined to be property, if your pet is injured or killed by another person or by their pet, that person is liable for their own actions and those of their pet.

This means that in instances such as a dog attacking or killing your cat, the owner of the dog regardless of negligence is liable for the gross actions of their dog.

Pets are a continuation of our families and when they are injured due to the careless actions of someone else, there will be consequences. If your beloved pet has been injured by someone else or their pet, an experienced attorney can help you to obtain the necessary settlement to care for your furry family member.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can you sue someone if their dog kills your cat?

Yes, so long as the dog is not a stray the owner is liable for the damages/injuries their dog causes.

Q: Can you sue a vet for negligence?

Yes! A veterinarian’s negligence can be considered malpractice and they are then liable for the damages they caused.

Q: Can you sue someone for their dog attacking you?

Yes, contact a lawyer immediately if you have been bitten by another person’s dog.

Q: Can you sue if a police dog bites you?

You can only sue if the dog were to attack you without cause, or there was extreme excessive force. Police dogs’ actions in the line of duty are protected by A.R.S. 11-1025.

Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.

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