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Titlesort descending Citation Alternate Citation Summary Type
Mitchell v. Snider 41 N.Y.S.3d 450 (N.Y. Civ. Ct. 2016) 51 Misc. 3d 1229(A); 2016 WL 3191291 This is a case of an unmarried, co-habitating couple that jointly bought a dog and now dispute who should have the dog after the relationship has terminated. Mitchell brought this replevin action against his girlfriend, Snider, to recover possession of Django, their black lab. This court recognized the traditional way to treat such a case is to consider which party has superior possessory right to the dog. However, modern courts have started to recognize a special category of property in pets and have used a 'best for all concerned' analysis to decide who gets the animal. In this case, the court grants judgment for Snider in part because she had been solely responsible for the dog's care for the previous 20 months. No money was awarded to Mitchell because the expenses he paid were an expression of the parties' mutual love and desire to care for the dog. Case
Moore v. Knower 214 So.3d 165 (La.App. 4 Cir., 2017) 2016-0776 (La.App. 4 Cir. 3/23/17) Bruce Moore and Amy Knower were in a relationship and decided to adopt a dog together. Bruce alleged that they both jointly adopted Abby, a Boston Terrier in 2010. The couple jointly shared expenses for the care and management of the dog. After the parties broke up, they agreed to an arrangement in which each party alternated possession of Abby every week. The parties continued this arrangement even during their brief reconciliation up until July of 2015 when Amy Knower refused to exchange the dog with Bruce Moore. Moore filed suit and the trial court found for him and awarded him the use and management of Abby. Knower alleged that she was the sole owner of Abby. Knower appealed, alleging five assignments of error: (1) the trial court erred in finding that she failed to support her claim of full ownership; (2) the trial court erred in finding that she co-owned Abby with Moore; (3) the trial court erred in failing to accept the testimony of Sheila Ford of the Mississippi Boston Terrier Rescue; (4) the trial court erred by stating that there was no basis in law for her to decide the custody of a dog and then doing just that; (5) the trial court erred by exercising jurisdiction over the matter. The Court determined that the trial court did in fact have jurisdiction over the matter. The Court did not find any errors in the trial court’s findings. It concluded that Abby was indeed co-owned by Moore and Knower and ultimately held that Knower had no right to unilaterally end the arrangement. Knower did not supply sufficient proof to support her claim of full ownership. Moore was awarded Abby and the right to solely determine use and management of the dog. Case
Nuzzaci v. Nuzzaci 1995 WL 783006 (Del. Fam. Ct. Apr. 19, 1995) (unpublished opinion). The court refused to sign a stipulation and order (prepared by the parties and signed by each of them and their attorneys) concerning visitation of the divorcing couple’s dog.  The court held that a court can only award dog in its entirety to one party or the other.  The court advised the couple to come to their own private agreement instead, reasoning that the court has no jurisdiction in this matter and further no way to side with one party or the other in the event of a future dispute. Case
People v. Miller 159 A.D.3d 1608 (N.Y. App. Div. 2018) 72 N.Y.S.3d 750, 2018 N.Y. Slip Op. 02109 (N.Y. App. Div. 2018) In this New York case, defendant appeals his conviction for burglary in the second degree, petit larceny, and criminal contempt in the first degree. The incident occurred when defendant went back over to his girlfriend's house after he called her to ask permission to visit the dogs. The complainant declined, saying she had plans for an outing with the dogs that day. Witnesses later observed defendant banging on the complainant's door and subsequently opening a window and climbing in her residence. After forcing entry, defendant took the dogs and complainant called 911. Subsequently, defendant led police on a high speed chase, and, after being arrested, defendant claimed the dogs were licensed to him. The appellate court viewed all the evidence of the elements for each crime and rejected defendant's contention that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence. Thus, the judgment was affirmed. Notably, two judges dissented on this appeal, finding that defendant "had at least a good faith basis for claiming an ownership interest the dogs." The dissent found the dogs may have been jointly owned and that, prior to his arrest, "defendant simply intended to take the dogs for a walk and then return them." Case
Placey v. Placey 51 So.3d 374 (Ala. Civ. App., 2010) 2010 WL 2342397 (Ala. Civ. App.)

The appellate court held that the Protection from Abuse Act authorized the trial court to determine and award ownership of Preston the dog in a domestic violence dispute between a mother and daughter. It then awarded ownership rights to the mother because took better care of the Preston and it was in his best interest.

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Pratt v. Pratt 1988 WL 120251 (Minn. Ct. App. Nov. 15, 1998) (unpublished opinion).

A childless, divorcing couple sought divorce; trial court awarded couple's registered dogs to wife based on the best interest standard used for determination of custody of children.  Appellate court held the best interest statute inapplicable to dogs, but stated that the trial court can award dogs based on evidence of mistreatment of the dogs by one of the parties.  Because the trial court's determination had a reasonable basis in fact, the appellate court affirmed its decision.

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Raymond v. Lachmann 695 N.Y.S.2d 308 (N.Y. App. Div. 1999). 264 A.D.2d 340; 1999 N.Y. Slip Op. 07127

Trial court allowed visitation in property dispute over cat between roommates.  Later, that court determined it was not in the aged cat's best interests to be shuffled back and forth so revoked its decision, awarding it to the non-possessory roommate in a straight property analysis.  The appellate court determined that it would be best for the cat to remain with the possessory party because of his age and the amount of time he had already been living there.

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Riley v. Riley 131 So.2d 491 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1961)

Trial court ordered husband and father, in divorce decree, to maintain his life insurance policy naming his children as beneficiaries; he appealed.   Appellate court affirmed, finding no abuse of discretion.  Appellate court upheld original decree, which also vested in the wife title to "some poodle dogs."

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Sullivan v. Ringland 376 A.2d 130 (N.H. 1977) 117 N.H. 596 (1977) A New Hampshire husband and wife owned their dog jointly when they divorced. The husband planned to take care of the dog while the wife relocated. Instead, he gave the dog away to a friend with a young son. The court held that the wife’s replevin action was not available against the donee of a cotenant. Case
Travis v. Murray 977 N.Y.S.2d 621 (Sup. Ct. 2013) 2013 N.Y. Slip Op. 23405, 42 Misc. 3d 447, 2013 WL 6246374 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2013)

A short, childless marriage ended in a custody battle over a dachshund after one spouse allegedly took the dog while the other spouse was away on a business trip. After reviewing the progression of the law in New York and in other states, the court decided to apply a “best for all concerned” standard and to give the parties a full, one-day hearing. The plaintiff’s motion to order the defendant to return the couple's dog and to be awarded “sole residential custody” of the dog was therefore granted.

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