There has been an increase in the amount of family law cases involving pets – specifically which party keeps the pet on a relationship breakdown. A recent British Columbia case, again states the law on ownership of a pet. This was a claim for a declaration of ownership of a dog. The judge reviewed Warnica v. Gering, in which the Court noted:
“Of course, any pet is somewhat different, in that it does not readily lend itself to physical division. A pet could be sold, with the proceeds to be divided in accordance with any determination as to the parties’ respective interests therein; however, that is something that few would want. Certainly it is something that no one wants here. A pet could be shared, as happened in the case of Rogers v. Rogers. In my view, that would be akin to a custody access/order. Whether in the Family Court or otherwise, I do not believe that any court should be in the business of making custody orders for pets, disguised or otherwise. To the extent that any of my colleagues may feel otherwise, I respectfully disagree. Obviously, I acknowledge that pets are of great importance to human beings. Strong bonds develop between them and the human beings that look after them. To some people, the relationship with their pets takes on a significance exceeding that of any other. They go to extraordinary lengths to preserve that relationship; even at a cost that some would say is disproportionate. Some may consider them to be children; however, they are not children.”
The judge then decides that he does not have jurisdiction to make a custody or access order with respect to a dog and a careful review of the evidence indicates that in fact the defendant was the sole owner of the dog and that the plaintiff’s interest was merely a sentimental, one and that does not bestow any right of possession upon him and his claim was dismissed.