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Oct 3, 2018

Dog not just another asset to be divided, dissenting judge argues

By Laurie H. Pawlitza
Special to the National Post View original

Last year, I reported a decision by Justice Rick Danyliuk of the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench in which he took a dim view about having to decide the ownership of a separating couple’s dogs.

Justice Danyliuk confirmed the traditional view that dogs are property and the narrow view used to decide ownership: the person who owns the dog keeps it. In determining ownership, the person who paid for the dog or whose name is on the registration certificate is the owner.

If both paid for the dog or are the registered owners, the court will not make an order for “visitation” arrangements, but instead may well order that the dog be sold and the net proceeds divided between the parties.

That legal reality doesn’t usually go over well in the dog park, where owners refer to each other as a dog’s “mom” or “dad,” revealing much about how we perceive a dog’s place in the family unit.

Happily for dog lovers, a recent dissenting opinion by Justice Lois Hoegg of the Newfoundland Court of Appeal in Baker v. Harmina may pave the way for a different approach.

This article was originally published in the National Post. To read the complete article, please visit the National Post's website