In the wake of several dog deaths at New Jersey PetSmart locations, a new law could soon appear on the state’s books.
“Scruffles’ Law” was introduced by Republican 12th District congressional candidate Daryl Kipnis on April 6. If passed, pet owners would have the option to sue for statutory and punitive damages in the event that negligence causes injury or death.
The proposed law is named after Nicole DiNapoli’s 8-year-old Bulldog, Scruffles who died during a routine grooming appointment at a Flemington, NJ PetSmart on December 29, 2017.
45 minutes after DiNapoli dropped Scruffles off, she received a call from an employee informing her that the dog had been rushed to Flemington Veterinary Hospital. By the time she arrived, her beloved companion was already gone.
DiNapoli was left scrambling for answers. No one from PetSmart stayed behind at the vet’s office to speak to her, and the company did not offer an explanation or provide a written report of their internal investigation.
A similar incident occurred at a PetSmart in Tom’s River, NJ just one day after Scruffles’ Law was proposed when Abby, an 8-year-old Corgi, passed away during her bath. Chuck Crawford, Abby’s owner, has ordered a necropsy to determine the cause of death.
Currently, New Jersey – like many other states – views pets as personal property. Any compensation awarded in their death is based on their monetary “worth”, instead of the emotional value they carry. In the event that a pet is injured or killed due to negligence, recklessness or animal cruelty, the owner may only recover economic damages (out-of-pocket expenses) from the responsible party.
If Scruffles’ Law comes to pass, Garden State dog owners like DiNapoli and Crawford will also have the option to sue for statutory damages of $10,000 per action, punitive damages based on the nature and severity of the act plus emotional distress, and court fees.
H/T to MyCentralJersey.com
Featured Image via Facebook/Justice for Scruffles