My ex has legal ownership of our dog. However, he moved to Toronto (4 hours away) and works too much, so he left the dog with me to take care of. Now, 2 years later, he decided to come to the region and wants the dog back, even with his same schedule that is too busy to take care of a dog. Do I have a case in the courts seeing that I have been this dog's guardian for the past 2 years? He has only seen the dog twice a year for the past 2 years.
Courts, in determining rights, will consider what transpired after purchase or adoption that may affect ownership rights. For example, courts will consider evidence to determine whether an animal was subsequently given away or abandoned so it is very possible a court could decide that after two years, the dog was gifted or abandoned and the person who had purchased or adopted the dog no longer owns the dog. Some courts have also considered the interests of the animal. For example, in the NY case of Raymond v. Lachmann, the court stated: “Cognizant of the cherished status accorded to pets in our society, the strong emotions engendered by disputes of this nature, and the limited ability of the courts to resolve them satisfactorily,.. we think it best for all concerned that, given his limited life expectancy, Lovey, who is now almost ten years old, remain where he has lived, prospered, loved and been loved for the past four years.” Clearly, the court considered the cat’s best interests and decided it was best to leave the cat where he had been living for four years. I hope that you and your ex can work out a pet custody arrangement that considers the best interests of the dog.
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