Pinellas verdict in dog's death may open door to changes - WFLA News Channel 8

Pinellas verdict in dog's death may open door to changes

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Dr Ken Newman examines a dog at his veterinarian office in Seminole. He is advocating a law that would compensate for the loss of a pet. Dr Ken Newman examines a dog at his veterinarian office in Seminole. He is advocating a law that would compensate for the loss of a pet.
PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

How much is your pet worth?

Cody, a 4 year old golden retriever, was like a family member to Liza Baceols and her son.

When the dog was awaiting surgery at St. Petersburg's Noah's Place Animal Medical Center in 2007, he ate its own tail and died, Baceols sued. 

A Pinellas County trial in 2011 ended with a deadlocked jury.

Last week, a second jury found the clinic grossly negligent.

"It is a huge victory for Baceols. Cody passed in 2007 and since that time she has been fighting this battle. It definitely gives her some closure," said Crystal Turner, Baceols' attorney.

Under current Florida law, pets are considered property and owners can only recover replacement cost.  But this verdict gives Baceols a chance to seek damages for mental anguish and Cody's value as a pet.

One local veterinarian is hoping Cody's case will open a door to change Florida law concerning pets.

Dr. Ken Newman became frustrated when his dog, Gracie was killed by a negligent driver and he had no legal recourse.

For two years, he's been trying to get a sponsor for Gracie's Law. It would provide capped damages of $25,000.

"They give us unconditional love and we cherish them. So if somebody kills them through negligence or malice, we feel we're entitled to something that recognizes that there's a loss that's occurred," said Newman.  He testified for the owner in Cody's case.

A new jury will decide how much a beloved pet is really worth. 

That trial is not expected to take place until the end of the year.

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