ESTACADA, Ore., May 26 (UPI) -- An Oregon man who allegedly drove over a dog to retaliate against his neighbor cannot be sued for the value of the pet's companionship, a judge ruled.
Raymond Weaver, 63, has already been convicted of first-degree animal abuse, but his neighbors, Mark Greenup and family, have sued for $1.6 million for the value of the dog's friendship, ABC reported.
Animal rights groups said the case could fundamentally change the legal relationship between animals and humans. But Judge Eve Miller of Clackamas County (Ore.) rejected the part of the suit asking the jury to value the dog for his worth as a companion. Current law views pets as property.
Judge Miller is allowing the jury to consider whether the family should be compensated for emotional distress.
Weaver maintains he hurt the dog accidentally.
Alison Gianotto, director of PetAbuse.com, said pets are common targets during personal conflicts, usually by shooting or poisoning.