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No, Your Dog isn’t Part of the Family: One Troubling Legal Case

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No, Your Dog Isn't Part of the Family

When you look at your pet, what do you think? “That fluffy animal is so cute,” or do you think, “my furry child is adorable?” I think most see your animals as your four-legged children – part of your family. I personally buy clothing for my cat, Stewie, and my dad sends me pictures of him with the caption “Happy Mother’s Day” on the second Sunday of May every year.

Most people consider cats part of the family
Stewie all dressed up

Just this past summer I made a paw print cake and had a party for my cousin’s Vizsla, Kailey on her birthday. She even wore a party hat.

Many people hold birthday parties for their pets
Kailey on her birthday

According to The Sacramento Bee, a judge in Canada seems to view pets differently. “A dog is a dog,” he said as he refused to treat dogs as children in a divorce case. Judge Richard Danyliuk explained that by law, an animal is considered property, and a “domesticated animal that is owned” has “no familial rights.”

The wife in the divorce case wanted to keep full custody of the soon-to-be ex-couple’s dogs and even offered her husband visitation rights. Unfortunately, judge Danyliuk didn’t agree with the request and rejected it. He then proceeded to explain how animal children are not the same as human children – not part of the family.

The judge wrote a statement about the couple’s oldest and ill dog: “It is one of life’s cruel twists that dogs are such noble beings yet enjoy such a short life span.” The judge must clearly be a dog lover – why else would he call them “noble beings”?  Unfortunately, he wasn’t willing to change how the laws view dogs within the family.

Yet none of this is stopping people from treating their pets more and more like humans.  The Harris Poll pointed out that 45 percent of American pet owners bought presents for their pets and that 95 percent of U.S. dog and cat owners consider their pet to be part of the family.

An article from Huffington Post mentions that there are a few state legislators floating the idea of changing the law to require consideration of pets’ best interests when determining custody. One solution that legislators are suggesting is a “love contract.”  Apparently, this love contract idea is “an evolved variation of pre-nuptial, post-nuptial or cohabitation Agreement that deals with any relationship issues beyond splitting property upon a breakup.”

The U.S. seems to be on the right track to fix this, maybe it’ll reach Canada, and judge Danyliuk will start to think differently!

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Amy Lukac

Amy Lukac

Amy has a BA in professional new media writing and is in the process of trying to find her dream job while still attending concerts and having the time of her life.

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