Classification of dog

Dog as “product”

In some states, a dog is considered to be a “product.” The New York Supreme Court in Beyer v. Aquarium Supply Co., 94 Misc.2d 336, 404 N.Y.S.2d 778 (Sup.Ct.1977) held that a diseased hamster was a product within the meaning of the Restatement of Torts. The court stated that “there is no reason why a breeder, distributor or vendor who places a diseased animal in the stream of commerce should be less accountable for his actions than one who markets a defective manufactured product.” Id. at 779.

Connecticut and Oregon also follow the position that animals should be considered “products” under the Restatement. See Worrell v. Sachs, 41 Conn.Supp. 179, 563 A.2d 1387 (1989)Sease v. Taylor’s Pets, Inc., 74 Or.App. 110, 700 P.2d 1054 (1985). This principle applies to any animal including a dog.

Not all courts agree. As stated by one court, “living creatures … are by their nature in a constant process of internal development and growth and they are also participants in a constant interaction with the environment around them as part of their development. Thus, living creatures have no fixed nature and cannot be products as a matter of law.” Latham v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 818 S.W.2d 673, 676 (Mo.App.Ct.1991) (citing Anderson v. Farmers Hybrid Cos., Inc., 87 Ill.App.3d 493, 42 Ill.Dec. 485, 408 N.E.2d 1194 (1980)). See also Blaha v. Stuard (2002) 640 NW 2d 85, 89 (South Dakota Supreme Court).

Dog as “property”

The United States Supreme Court has held that dogs are personal property and are subject to destruction and other appropriate government measures. (See Sentell v. New Orleans & C. Railroad Co. (1897) 166 U.S. 698, 704 [17 S.Ct. 693, 41 L.Ed. 1169].)