An Inclusive Litany

10/8/00

In Switzerland, campaigners have collected 250,000 signatures for a petition that would grant pets rights similar to those of children in divorce cases.

In Orange County, California, a court will rule on whether an estranged husband who moved to Montana can claim one of two dogs shared by the couple and receive $25,000 in punitive damages and compensation for loss of companionship. His wife says the dogs should be kept together.

Finally, many more American veterinarians are being sued for malpractice, and their insurers have responded by upping lawsuits' "nuisance value" (out-of-court settlement) from around $200 during the 1970s to $4,000. Caps on damage awards have risen more sharply, from around $300 to five figures. The American Veterinary Association warns their members' increased insurance premiums will inevitably be passed along to consumers, decreasing overall access to veterinary care.

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