Court In Pumkin Case Takes Step Toward Justice for Animals

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A California Court of Appeal has overturned a lower court ruling that a cat is only worth its replacement value, and acknowledges the animal’s importance to his family.

“The people that perpetrate these crimes against domesticated animals are going to have to pay. Maybe, over time, people will start to think twice.”

Kevin Kimes

A Contra Costa County lower court ruling that Pumkin the cat was Brentwood resident Kevin Kimes’ property and damages, if won, could only be in the amount of replacement value has been overturned by the First District Court of Appeals in San Francisco in a first-of-its-kind decision that the cat was no ordinary property, and any damages should reflect the special meaning his life had for Mr. Kimes.
While the cat is still legally considered as property, this ruling is a step in the right direction in improving the legal status and regard of companion animals.  The suit will now continue, with the appeals court ruling that Mr. Kimes is justified in seeking compensation for Pumkin’s enormous medical bills as a result of his shooting.

Pumkin joined Kevin Kimes’ family which included four other cats when he turned up stray and looking for food in 2003. Mr. Kimes says “I don’t have kids, and my animals are my kids.” to explain Pumkin’s position in the Kimes household.

After incidents with an abutting neighbor and the neighbor’s son squirting Pumkin with water to get him away from their birdbath, and saying they owned a pellet gun according to Mr. Kimes, a more serious attack was made on Pumkin.

Mr. Kimes was traveling  in 2005 when Pumkin was shot. A neighbor contacted him, saying someone had  shot Pumkin with a pellet gun on a backyard fence. Upon learning of the shooting Mr. Kimes arranged for a vet to try to save the cat’s life. Pumkin survived with his hind legs and tail paralyzed, though after care and therapy has was able to stand and take 10 to 20 steps at a time.

All told, between the initial surgery and other medical expenses, the total expenditure for Pumkin’s care as a result of the shooting was a whopping $36,000. He died in 2009 of unrelated causes but the court battle over his shooting now continues.

The case in the lawsuit against neighbor Joseph Grosser and his son Charles hinges on Mr. Kimes’ lawyer being able to convince the court that the Grossers committed the act and did it deliberately. Not surprisingly, the accused now even deny having admitted to owning a pellet gun, along with having committed the shooting. We expect them and their lawyer to say and do whatever they can to avoid being found responsible.

While we hope Mr. Kimes is able to recover the $36,000 if the Grossers are found to be responsible, this case has already been a win for Pumkin, for Mr. Kimes and for all companion animals as the law makes progress in recognition of the value of the lives of animals.

For some background on this recent finding: The higher court noted that judges in other states have upheld damages to pet owners for the cost of reasonable veterinary treatment. Otherwise, “the law would be inhuman,” a New York court declared in 1988.

Presiding Justice James Marchiano said in the appellate court’s 3-0 ruling that Mr. Kimes “is not plucking a number out of the air for the sentimental value of damaged property,” but is presenting his medical bills as “a rational way of demonstrating a measure of damages.”

Justice  Marchiano has further said that if Mr. Kimes prevails in having the court find that the Grossers delierately shot Pumkin he can seek additional amounts in punitive damages.


The primary reference for this story is a San Fransisco Chronicle report.

3 thoughts on “Court In Pumkin Case Takes Step Toward Justice for Animals”

  1. Glad to hear it….. Thanx for sparing me the details, I can’t handle it anymore…… too upsetting to my health`! A friend of mine lost a parrot on a plane ride from the heat I think, anyway the sad amount the airline gave her was ridiculous~! Parrots are expensive birds when you talk monetary value when purchasing them not to mention the hurt of loosing a family member~!

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