Veterinarians are caring professional people who have dedicated their lives and careers to relieving animal suffering. They are also pet owners, so they truly understand the power of the human-animal bond. Legislating emotional reactions and grief is loaded with unintentional consequences.
As veterinarians, we understand the deep grief and pain felt when we lose a pet. There is nothing in such legislation that will ease this heartache and pain. In all likelihood, this bill will make it harder for veterinarians to deliver good care and expenses will go up for all pet owners. Pet care will become more expensive because insurance costs, paperwork, record keeping, tests and procedures will all increase in cost as well.
Human medical malpractice studies have shown that increasing awards for malpractice causes many physicians to leave their profession. In fact, in most human malpractice cases, there is no underlying negligence. Certainly, veterinarians will be less likely to enter or remain in a clinical practice where they subject themselves to a lawsuit lottery. This bill will deeply damage and change forever the veterinarian-client-patient relationship. Instead of discussing a pet’s healthcare as part of a team, veterinarians and pet owners will likely face a strained relationship due to economic pressures.
Allowing substantial damages for the loss of a pet does not mean that care will improve. Trusted veterinary practitioners today practice high quality medicine and make efforts to build a close relationship with all their clients and patients. And we believe that is the key to outstanding care delivery. I feel badly for pet owners who have lost pets for any reason. But, allowing their grief to disrupt and manipulate our system will complicate our court system and cause more distress and expense for everyone.