Recently a woman in New York filed suit against a pet store because the dog she purchased suffers various medical complaints. The suit seeks to hold the store liable for the animal's pain, suffering and medical bills, as if it were a person rather than a piece of property. While the woman's ultimate goal is to help shut down puppy mills, the issue is a valid one.
While pets are not people, they are also not inanimate objects. A coffee table doesn't run if something gets spilled on it. It doesn't wait for you to come home; nor does it snuggle in bed. A pet will do all of those things.