Judge rules pet dogs cannot be treated as children in Canada custody...

Judge rules pet dogs cannot be treated as children in Canada custody dispute

Pet Dog, Lizardfish, Dog

Dogs are property and cannot be considered in the same vein as children, a Canadian judge has ruled, in a scathing decision that blasted a newly separated couple for a “ridiculous” attempt to use the court system to settle a custody dispute over two of their dogs.

The childless couple, who separated in April after 16 years of marriage, turned to the court system earlier this year to settle a row over where two of their three dogs would live.

The initial application to the court was made by the husband, who wanted to keep one of the couple’s dogs.

Lawyers for the wife – who pointedly described her estranged husband as a “cat person” in court documents – pushed the court to consider the matter as they would any other custody issue, urging the judge to allow the dogs, aged 9 and 2, to live with her and grant visitation rights to her husband.

Image result for dog family

Any similarity between children and pets was roundly rejected by the judge. “Many dogs are treated as members of the family with whom they live,” Justice Richard Danyliuk wrote in his decision, issued in August and which came to light this week after a report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “But after all is said and done, a dog is a dog. At law it is property, a domesticated animal that is owned. At law it enjoys no familial rights.”

While he acknowledged that pets can differ from other property in that statutory protection exists to prevent them from being treated with cruelty or neglect, he drew the line at applying the principles of child custody to animals.

He pointed to the differences in how society treats dogs and children to explain his reasoning. “In Canada, we tend not to purchase our children from breeders,” he wrote. “In turn, we tend not to breed our children with other humans to ensure good bloodlines, nor do we charge for such services … When our children act improperly, even seriously and violently so, we generally do not muzzle them or even put them to death for repeated transgressions.”

Since the couple’s separation, the dogs – named Kenya and Willow, or Willy for short – have been staying with the parents of the wife.

For the time being, said the judge, the dogs should remain where they are. He likened the matter to being asked to rule on what the couple should do with other joint property they may own. “Am I to make an order that one party have interim possession of (for example) the family butter knives but, due to a deep attachment to both butter and those knives, order that the other party have limited access to those knives for 1.5 hours per week to butter his or her toast?” Justice Danyliuk wrote. “A somewhat ridiculous example, to be sure, but one that is raised in response to what I see as a somewhat ridiculous application.”

Image result for public courtIn a court system plagued with delays, where many are forced to wait months to hear applications relating to child welfare and other family matters, he slammed the couple for tying up valuable resources. While he was sure that the couple felt the living arrangement of their dogs was a “most important matter”, he urged them to consider the bigger picture. “To consume scarce judicial resources with this matter is wasteful.”

The couple was taking a substantial risk in pursuing this matter in court, he warned. “Both parties should bear in mind that if the court cannot reach a decision on where the dogs go, it is open to the court under the legislation to order them sold and the proceeds split – something I am sure neither party wants.”

Ultimately he dismissed the application, pressing the pair to sort out the dispute themselves and leave the court to other matters. “Simply put,” said the judge, “I am not about to make what amounts to a custody order pertaining to dogs.”