In Pennsylvania we know what a dog is worth - or at least we know the worth of the puppies you buy from a pet store or breeder: the price on his sale tag. The state's Puppy Lemon Law says that you are due back the purchase price of the dog should the dog get sick during your first 10 days of ownership or be found to have genetic defect in the first 30 days.

But what about the dog who's been curled up next you on the sofa for as long as you can remember? Your running partner? The one who saw you through your divorce? Your best friend? Priceless right?

The Vermont Supreme Court is poised to answer that question. The case stems from a 2003 incident involving a Maryland couple visiting friends in Vermont. Their mixed-breed dog Shadow ran into a neighbor's yard and was shot. Now the couple is asking the court to establish a legal doctrine that dog owners can sue for emotional distress and loss of companionship as a parent can for the loss of a child.

In arguments before the court last week couple's lawyer said dogs "love you back" and are therefore worth much more to humans than an inanimate piece of property. The lawyer for the man who shot the dog argued a ruling for the plaintiff would open the floodgates for similar suits. He asked the court, what's to stop people from suing for emotional damages over the loss of any other domestic animal? No ruling is expected before the spring.