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The Curious Case of Fuhrious Finneous

The former MP for our area now sits as a Court of Queen’s Bench judge. Justice Toews recently issued a colourful decision in regards to ownership of a pet.

The case deals with a dispute over the ownership of a dog, having its origin in a romantic relationship that fell apart. The plaintiff in the case had moved in with the defendant and her children, and brought with him two dogs, including one that he had named Fuhrious. Less than two years later, the relationship broke down, and he moved out of the home where they had all been living together. The dog, Fuhrious, renamed Finneous by the girlfriend, stayed behind. The plaintiff demanded that Fuhrious Finneous be returned to him, a demand which was refused.

Justice Toews ruled that there was no question that the plaintiff had been the owner of the dog prior to the relationship, and that ownership never changed. While a pet dog is a living creature, it is nevertheless “personal property” at law. From a property law perspective, this makes it no different than things like a car or a piece of artwork. Though a dog may be treated as a family dog by the parties while they lived together, that does not change the determination of ownership in a legal sense. The best interests of the dog were not relevant to the determination of the matter, nor was there any legal basis to order some sort of a shared custody of Fuhrious Finneous.

In dismissing the action, Justice Toews also refused to order costs to the plaintiff, something that would normally follow success in court. Without being too direct about it the message was conveyed that, no matter how much affection parties may have had for Fuhrious Finneous, the courts do not want to become referees of canine custody questions.

Notice: The articles on our website are provided for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice or opinion. They reflect the current state of the law as at the date of posting on the website, and are subject to change without notice. If you require legal advice or opinion, we would be pleased to provide you with our assistance on any of the issues raised in these articles.