The Colorado Vet Association stated during past legislative fights that the cost of veterinary care would escalate dramatically if there was loss of companionship damages. And the CVMA prevailed on the misleading at best - deception at worst of the Colorado Legislature
And yet, insurers at the time stated it would cost 11ct more per visit below for each dog or cat in 2008..
Now if per the AIG study that our companion animals increase our longevity by 7 years and while 9/11 victims families received $1,500,000 and average male lifespan (to be conservative not politically correct) is 76-77 years - thus the companion animals add 10% which would equal a potential loss up to $150,000. At $100,000 loss of companionship damages - the cost per dog and cat visit would be 44cents.... even with veterinary inflation of 5% that would be 65 cents per visit.
See below and ask Ralph Johnson of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association where he came up with running away - escalating veterinary medical costs making care less affordable in his CVMA letter to the legislature in 2007-2008 in light of below - numbers from the 2nd largest Veterinary Malpractice Insurer cited in 2008.
An ethicist’s commentary on raising the economic value of companion animals
About 30 years ago, veterinary medicine began to tout the value of the human/animal bond. People like the late Leo Bustad did much to make this concept a household word. During the ensuing decades, the close bond between people and their pets has been evidenced in countless ways and has become a favorite subject for the mass media to explore. Grief for pets is now recognized as a legitimate phenomenon and as an object of study and sometimes counselling, and the value of interactions with animals for the aged, the infirm, the disturbed, and criminal rehabilitation is widely evidenced. Whole volumes have been devoted to the role of companion animals in psychotherapy. And anyone who followed the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina knows of the victims who refused to be rescued without their animals. Emblazoned in my mind is the picture of a 70ish, gray-bearded, tattooed biker-type gentleman, big and burly, who cried like a child when his Jack Russell terrier was returned to him weeks after the flood.
While veterinary medicine has led the parade about the bond, its behavior with regard to the pecuniary value of pets has been significantly incompatible with the concept. As one of my friends, a state executive director puts it, “We have talked for years about the infinite value of the human-animal bond, but when people then ask why, if their dog is killed through malpractice, they can only recover ‘market value,’ perhaps $50 in the case of a mongrel. They go on to say, ‘Oh, we didn’t mean money.’”
In our society, rightly or wrongly, value is measured in monetary terms. To say that a person like the Katrina victim described above can only recover $50 if his dog is killed through malpractice is to belittle the value of that animal to that person. A couple of states have allowed owner recovery in excess of market value, but, by and large, veterinarians have quashed bills that would raise the value of these animals.
This is indeed ironic in a world where specialty practices are flourishing to such a significant extent that it is difficult for veterinary schools to hire faculty in certain board-certified fields where salaries have skyrocketed. The financial success of veterinarians, as the question implies, is directly tied to how much people value their animals.
As far as increased malpractice insurance rates are concerned, I received the following information from a lawyer friend, Chris Green. He cites calculations by Jay O’Brien, former president of ABD Insurance and Finance Services (ABD), the 2nd largest veterinary malpractice insurer in the United States (1). According to O’Brien, if a bill in California allowing pet owners to recover $25 000 (US) for pet loss, malpractice insurance premiums would approximately double, going to about $400 (US) a year, which would increase the average pet owner’s visit to a veterinarian by 11¢ (US)! And such an increase would hardly forestall people bringing their animals to veterinarians, as has sometimes been argued. Green also referred me to a quotation from Dr. Ed Branam, managing director of ABD, regarding the proposed California law:
“The human-animal bond is what’s driving this profession’s unprecedented growth. For anyone not to trade that for $400 a year is insane.” (2)
1. Green C. The future of veterinary malpractice liability in the case of companion animals. [Last accessed January 4, 2008]. Available at http://www.animallaw.info/
2. Branam D. DVM Newsmagazine. 2004. February 2. The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) covets heightened legal status for pets; p. 1.