Friday, September 19, 2008

Is your doggie chattel?

Saw an interesting segment on the telly the other night about people divorcing and their animals.

Apparently some married couples and co-habitees, not content to cause huge anguish (and damage) to their kids by raucously playing out the sad demise of their relationship, now are using their family pets as opportunities to inflict distress on the former 'beloved other half'. Some of them take off with the dog and cat and refuse to give the other partner visiting rights.

It's happening so regularly that people (including some judges) involved in sorting out the mess are beginning to wonder if the law that dogs and cats are chattel shouldn't change. By chattel, I mean possessions. Currently, the law is that dogs and cats are 'things' and the party who bought the dog or cat is the legal owner in law, regardless of whether or not the other partner cared or loved it.

The reasoning behind this sea change is that dogs and cats are really regarded as family members nowadays and should be treated in the same way as children when it comes to divorce/separation.

I agree a change is needed. The law's an ass here. (No pun intended.)

2 comments:

GrapeSnoCone said...

Yes, pets are chattel. I know your blog deals with divorce but my realm of knowledge is liability claims. A special legal class for pets exposes not only regular people to increase liability but also vets, shelters and groomers. Everyone's premiums would increase and where do you stop? Birds?

Also, suppose you back over your neighbor's cherished tabby? Do you owe $50 or $5000 (including the pain and suffering)? Pets die and we are able to be replaced. Yes it's painful but a human's life goes on.

Eedra at Barking Mad said...

We work for the rights of responsible pet owners to live a normal life in Australia.

In regards to renting, there are commonly used tenancy agreements that claim to be in accordance with tenancy law and regulation. From my research, I can't ever see this premise being tested.

These default tenancy agreements state that an animal or bird can not be kept at the premises UNLESS PERMISSION IS OBTAINED (this is the rented premises that the law gives the renter full right of access to providing they pay rent and behave).

Dogs are chattel - full stop. Not only are they chattel, they are LEGAL chattel if registered per applicable law where you reside.

SO HOW CAN A RENTAL AGREEMENT MAKE YOU ASK PERMISSION TO HAVE A DOG - OR, THE LEGAL EQUIVALENT, A PINK HANDBAG AT YOUR HOME?