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Fat Cats:

One-third of Britain's pets are overweight.

No word on whether Britain will ban dog and cat food commercials (as former FTC Chairman Tim Muris once joked).

Humble Law Student:
From what I understand Britian's culture isn't as litigious as ours. However, if this happened in the US, could we all be treated to a spat of lawsuits against cat food manufacturers? It would be fantastic to observe.
1.7.2006 2:57pm
ChrisAllan (mail):
There is not much incentive to sue because pets are still personal property, they depreciate with age and you can't get pain and suffering when they meet an untimely or tragic end. However, if PETA and the other groups that promote animal rights are successful in raising the legal status of animals to that of companion there might be a case for loss of consortium.
1.7.2006 6:26pm
Splunge (mail):
Weird. I thought being a fat cat or The Big Dog was a good thing...
1.7.2006 7:27pm
JohnAnnArbor:
I thought PETA didn't believe in pets or zoos at all.
1.7.2006 7:43pm
The NJ Annuitant (mail):
As a pet owner, I make sure my dog is at her proper weight. I control what she is fed, and we don't give her table scraps. It is hard to understand why people overfeed their pets-- this is, or can be, totally within the control of the owners.
1.7.2006 8:27pm
Rhadamanthus1982 (mail) (www):
The NJ Annuitant

I think it's always difficult for people who do take proper care of pets (I hope I include myself in this number) to understand how people can mistreat pets, even if simply by over-feeding. That said if people are suing over products that alleedly made themselves fat, I'm hardly surprised that they are filing claims over pet obesity; avoidance of responsibility seems to be a time honoured buzz word.


Humble Law Student

Well our culture isn;t as litigious as the US but that's not saying much. There are more rigorous product liability laws thankfully.
1.7.2006 9:23pm
Per Son:
I recall hearing a story about a movement to allow owners to get more than replacement value when their beloved pets are killed under certain circumstances (more than negligence). Like if someone killed your dog. There were limits to the amount you can recover, but if you have a beloved pet, and your neighbor kills it in front of you - it is bound to cause massive emotional suffering that you currently are without relief for. The state may be Massachusetts, and the point of the story is that it is about pet lovers not liberals and conservatives. In fact, the two major people that pushed for this legal change were: (drumroll please) an uber conservative and a liberal.
1.7.2006 9:24pm
Rhadamanthus1982 (mail) (www):
Interesting, I was scanning a new policy that had been brought in for exams in the UK (as in high school; not sure about University). If your pet dies on the day of the exam you can get grade boosts for shock/mental distress etc. If memory serves a dead dog was worth a 2% boost. I kid you not, this is a real story.
1.7.2006 10:07pm
The NJ Annuitant (mail):
Recollect that the Almighty, who gave the dog to be companion of our plearsures and our toils, hath invested him with a nature noble and incapable of deceit.
--Sir Walter Scott
1.7.2006 10:35pm
ChrisAllan (mail):
Another alternative is to prosecute the pet owners for negligence in that the owner contributed to the onset of the disease or cruelty to animals for failure to provide a healthy and safe diet.
1.8.2006 12:31pm
Sarah Brabazon-Biggar (mail):
My dog doesn't get table scraps and has been on a strict, vet-advised diet of low-fat dog food for two years, but he's still overweight. He has a big backyard to play in and I take him to the dog park to run around with other dogs. I guess that's not enough--maybe he needs to run five miles every day, but that's something I can't do. Should I be prosecuted for negligence?
1.8.2006 4:08pm
Craig Oren (mail):
Of course, the original "joke" is pointless. Pets may not understand pet-food ads, but their owners certainly do.
1.8.2006 4:11pm
EricP:
We have two little (15-20lbs) muts. We keep their food and water dish full. They don't get scraps but other than that they eat as much or as little as they want. They are pretty active on their own but we rarely walk them (we have a big yard). Neither has any extra weight on them. The only "extra" step we take is to buy the healthier food choices. We have bought the "regular" food in the past and it has felt oily when you touch it (they have always eaten dry food). Since then we've switched back. No fat issues here. Every dog I've ever had has pretty much eaten when it wants and I've never had a fat dog. I have to assume that fat dogs must be the result of table scraps which I don't believe in.
1.8.2006 5:47pm
ChrisAllan (mail):
Sarah,

I wouldn't prosecute but there are those that would. It might sound like an extreme measure but it's not that big of leap from sending someone to prison for killing someone's dog by throwing it onto the freeway.

www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/ article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/07/13/MN169309.DTL

Leo's killer gets the max
Judge berates man for claiming dog's death accidental
Matthew B. Stannard, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, July 13, 2001

The strange, sad tale of Leo the dog came finally to a close in San Jose yesterday as the man convicted of hurling the beloved bichon frise to his death on the highway was sentenced to three years in prison.
1.8.2006 6:14pm
Crane (mail):
ChrisAllan,

There's a significant difference between prosecuting someone who kills another's dog in a road rage incident and prosecuting someone who allows their own dog to get fat. Especially since pets are considered property under the law, like home appliances - you're free to do what you want with your own TV, but if you take a sledgehammer to your neighbor's new flat-panel after an argument you're likely to find yourself in trouble with the police.
1.8.2006 9:02pm
ChrisAllan (mail):
One third of the Brits pets are overweight and one quarter of obese Brits don't want to lose weight. Might there be a correlation?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4589010.stm

Obese 'don't want to lose weight'

Many people could not identify their weight category
More than a quarter of obese and overweight people do not want to lose weight, a survey says.
The Cancer Research UK poll also found many more were unaware of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and that being overweight increased cancer risk.
1.9.2006 12:52am
Rhadamanthus1982 (mail) (www):

Especially since pets are considered property under the law, like home appliances - you're free to do what you want with your own TV, but if you take a sledgehammer to your neighbor's new flat-panel after an argument you're likely to find yourself in trouble with the police.


Crane, that theory suggests that you could equally take a sledgehammer to your pet; after all if they are property like a home appliance you can do as you will. Unacceptable. If that is the law (and I really, really hope you are wrong on this) it shows a distinct lack of sensitivity on the part of the legislature; maybe a visit to an animal hospital may be in order?
1.9.2006 12:55am
Sarah Brabazon-Biggar (mail):
Chris, I would argue that there is a substantial difference between prosecuting someone for allowing their pet to become overweight, and putting someone in prison over violently killing a pet. The primary difference lies in the awareness of doing harm.

Anyway, if we start prosecuting over fat pets, what about those owners who don't give their dogs medication to prevent heartworm, which is potentially fatal (more so than being overweight)?
Parvovirus is nearly always fatal in puppies, but I've never heard of anyone being prosecuted for negligence for not getting their puppy vaccinated against it.
Some dog owners brush their dogs' teeth twice a day. If I don't do that, is it negligence if my dog gets cavities? We have to draw a line somewhere as to what level of care is expected. I think, as far as pets go, food, water, and shelter in a healthy environment are sufficient.

By the way, if we're prosecuting owners of overweight animals, what about farmers who purposely overfeed their stock to make them fatter?
1.9.2006 5:24am