Sign up to receive Benmor's Guide to Money & Divorce

o o o

Can you sue for custody and support of your pet?

Maybe.

On December 17, 2004, in the Ontario case of Warnica v. Gering, Mr. Justice Timms dismissed Christopher Warnica’s claim for shared joint custody of a pet dog named Tuxedo. In that case, the judge stated that courts should not be in the business of making custody orders for pets. Although the judge acknowledged that pets are of great importance to human beings, Mr. Justice Timms stated that some people go to extraordinary lengths to preserve that relationship. That is why Mr. Justice Timms ultimately ended Mr. Warnica’s case.

As for pet support, in the Alberta case of Boschee v. Duncan, [2004] A.J. 677, in addition to seeking $1,500 per month in spousal support, the wife claimed $200 per month to support her husband’s St. Bernard dog. The wife argued that she required pet support to cover the veterinary costs and the costs of feeding and caring for the dog after her husband left the dog in her care. The court found that a St. Bernard dog costs more to maintain and feed than the usual smaller variety. The judge hearing this case ruled that $200 per month was a reasonable sum to compensate the wife for the time and expense required to look after her husband’s dog and ordered him to pay pet support.