Dogs and Divorce: Who Keeps the Dog?


We all know that it is difficult to break up. It is especially difficult when companions are part of what is being distributed or shared between two newly separated households.

Recently, a divorced Canadian couple was unable to agree on custody of their two dogs. After inundating the court with briefs describing the various pets they had looked after over the years (and who had provided most of the care), the woman asked the judge to treat the dogs like children, and gave her custody with a visit to the husband. Visibly frustrated with the request and the burden on the case of limited judicial resources, Judge Richard Danyliuk of the Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan wrote a lengthy decision that made headlines in Canada and the United States.

The judge began his decision by declaring his love for animals. “Dogs are wonderful creatures.” Then he continued, “Many dogs are treated as family members to live with. But after all, a dog is a dog. By law, it is property, a domesticated animal that is owned. He has no family rights under the law. “

The same goes for most jurisdictions in the United States.

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