updated 5/13/2005 6:38:36 PM ET 2005-05-13T22:38:36

A woman who sued a neighbor after his dog mauled her cat to death has been awarded more than $45,000.

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Retired teacher Paula Roemer’s 12-year-old cat, Yofi, was attacked in her back yard in February 2004 by a chow belonging to her neighbor, Wallace Gray. The dog had repeatedly escaped in the past, according to the lawsuit.

Roemer, 71, said the death of the black and white cat left her with sleep disturbances, panic attacks and depression, causing her to begin smoking heavily. The amount awarded included $30,000 for the pet’s special value and $15,000 for emotional distress.

Her lawyer, Adam P. Karp, announced the verdict by Judge Barbara L. Linde on Sunday and said the value accorded to the cat tied a record. In the previous case, a jury in California last year ordered a veterinarian to pay a dog owner $30,000 for the dog’s “unique” value, plus $9,000 for veterinary bills.

Gray, who served three weeks in jail and three months under house arrest for an animal control violation, said an acquaintance was taking care of his dog at the time of the attack.

“This is absolutely crazy,” Gray said. “I’m sorry she lost her cat, but I had no control over it.”

Roemer said she doubted she would see any of the money but plans to donate anything she does collect to an animal protection group.

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