In a rather strange set of circumstances, a Saskatoon judge was forced to make an ardent defence of the belief that within the remit of law, dogs should not be treated like children. The judge, Richard Danyliuk made the case whilst writing about a dispute involving a divorcing, childless couple who were unable to come to an agreement as to where their dogs, Kenya and Willow, should be homed. He went on to say:
“Dogs are wonderful creatures[…]treated as members of the family with whom they live[…]but a dog is a dog[…]at law it enjoys no familial rights.”
However, the wife of the couple wanted the case to be treated like that of a child custody dispute, whereby she could offer visitation rights only to her estranged husband, whom despite apparently being more of a ‘cat person’, made the initial application to the court based on keeping one of the dogs. Danyliuk rejected her request on the grounds that unlike children, dogs are deemed by the law as ‘property’. He went on to reinforce the point by stating, “we tend not to purchase our children from breeders nor do we breed them with other humans to ensure good bloodlines[…]when our children act improperly we generally do not muzzle them.”
Judge Danyliuk said despite statutory protection for pets to prevent them from being treated with cruelty or neglect, dogs are property, not family. The judge also remarked on how the case was taking up precious court-time saying, “to consume scarce judicial resources with this matter is wasteful.”
Especially whilst court-rooms are plagued with delays of sometimes months in which many are forced to wait for hearings involving applications concerning child welfare and other family matters. The judge went on to warn the couple that if they fail to come to an agreement then it is “open to the court under legislation to order them sold and the proceeds split.”
Danyliuk eventually decided that the dogs should stay with the wife’s parents whilst the divorce proceedings are settled.
Images Courtesy of CBC.