Friday, March 18, 2011

Custody over dog?

This story in the Straits Times about a dispute over a dog was going to happen at some point or other. With relationships between people and animals lasting sometimes lasting long after relationships between people have broken up, it was a matter of time before this came up. The judge's grounds for decision will make an interesting read. As much as the defendant's lawyer seem to suggest that emotion should have no place in this because animals are property, they clearly aren't. For one thing, if the dog was just a piece of property, one could possibly just order that one party pay the other monetary compensation - something which I am sure neither party would be happy with.

Also, if this is just a case of property, how much would the dog be worth? Bearing in mind the adoption fees and the cost of flying the dog back, quarantine, food, medical bills, etc, it's still unlikely that it would begin to approach the $250000 amount that it takes for a case to be tried in the High Court. Of course there are exceptions and the judge's reasoning will be most illuminating. It is arguable at least that the High Court heard this case because it is potentially a new area of law to be explored.

It would also be hard to imagine that two people would take a matter where a piece of property was involved up to the High Court. Would you go to the High Court, where costs are considerable, over a pen or a necklace, even if they were an expensive pen or necklace? It would probably be cheaper to just buy a new one. It's about time that this area of law was clarified - after all, for all of us, our animals are not just property.

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