Pets Are Not Children

A recent Canadian court case recently brought an interesting question to the fore. That is: what is a pet? In terms of legal assets, what does a pet come under? Is it property, or should it have familial rights?

Judge Richard Danyliuk has set his stall firmly on this one – a pet is a ‘domesticated animal that is owned’ and as such, since it is owned, it is property, and nothing more. This may dismay pet owners up and down the land, but in the eyes of the law this is how it must be.

This is certainly how it is for a Canadian couple who were attempting to organise custodial rights for their dogs. The judge told the newly separated couple in no uncertain terms that it was ‘ridiculous’ to expect the court to rule on their custody dispute over the dogs.

The couple have no children and were married for 16 years and had three dogs. The row that brought them to court was about two of the three dogs, and about where those dogs would live. The husband initially made an application to the court saying that he wanted to keep one of the dogs. The wife’s lawyers actually wrote in the court papers that the man was more of a cat person than a dog person, wanted the judge to look upon this case as a he would a child custody case, since the wife wanted the dogs to live with her, but grant visitation rights to the husband.

Although the judge was happy to concede that dogs are often treated as family, they are in no way the same as children, and cannot be seen as such by the court.

If you need help with any kind of family law matter, please contact us.

Simon Walland