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Who Gets The Dog?
September 17, 2007 10:15 PM   Subscribe

"Pet custody disputes have become an increasingly common fixture in divorce cases." Related: "Animal lawyers are careful to distinguish themselves from animal rights advocates... These lawyers are concerned primarily with getting the legal system to acknowledge that animals have an intrinsic value beyond mere property."
posted by amyms (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
IANAB*, but ...
*I Am Not A Bowwister
posted by rob511 at 10:50 PM on September 17, 2007


Nobody who makes pâté this good can be all bad.
posted by pyramid termite at 10:51 PM on September 17, 2007




So, how often is it that a pet-lawyer wakes up and decides to actually do something productive with their lives instead?
posted by pompomtom at 11:30 PM on September 17, 2007


So, how often is it that a pet-lawyer wakes up and decides to actually do something productive with their lives instead?

Do not underestimate the power of the pet fetish. I know people who would argue far more over their pets than their kids.
posted by three blind mice at 1:43 AM on September 18, 2007


Pet detectives have been around for years. Good to see laywers catching up.
posted by psmealey at 3:20 AM on September 18, 2007


the booming field of animal law

So it went from one practitioner to two?
posted by preparat at 3:22 AM on September 18, 2007


So it went from one practitioner to two?

Hee it's funny because if I make snarky remarks, then that means things aren't actually changing and I don't need to think about them!
posted by kavasa at 5:28 AM on September 18, 2007


So, how often is it that a pet-lawyer wakes up and decides to actually do something productive with their lives instead?

Well, as someone who cares deeply about his cats and ferrets, I'm more interested in the legal aspects of "animals have an intrinsic value beyond mere property".

One of the (many) heartbreaking parts of the hurricane Katrina disaster was the many many pets that were left abandoned as their owners fled. Some pets weren't allowed on Red Cross or FEMA buses and the despair from their owners was gut wrenching. Maybe if animals were recognized as more than property but less than human, then those owners would have more implicit right to take their companions with them?
posted by Danaid at 6:05 AM on September 18, 2007


So, how often is it that a pet-lawyer wakes up and decides to actually do something productive with their lives instead?

As a lawyer, I think that one of the MOST productive things I could do in my life was help people in ways that can support and strengthen people emotionally and physically. Many people, myself included, build incredibly close bonds with pets and consider them part of the family, not quite human, but definitely more important than a toaster oven or computer. Individuals going through divorce, stuck in public housing and shelter scenarios, evacuating due to emergency needs, and just every day pet owners in normal situations take physical and emotional strength and support from pets. Pet ownership has been shown to contribute to longevity and overall health. Pets are frequently used as a part of therapy for a variety of reasons. Only a small number of practitioners are engaged in supporting this, but it could have an important every day effect on many people.

And comparatively, since "productive" for a lawyer is mostly going to work to compliance-check bond trading for an insurance company's legal department, bicker over irrelevant trademark battles that affect no one's lives for the better other than to wad cash in a lawyer's pocket, throw one more basically harmless kid in jail for drug charges (or get one more rapist out of doing jail time), and any of the other irrelevant, completely irrelevant tasks that busy up the vast majority of bullshit lawyers' time... helping living beings (human and other species')....well, that's incredibly productive.
posted by bunnycup at 6:29 AM on September 18, 2007 [6 favorites]


Can't they just ask a pet psychic which one they prefer?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:35 AM on September 18, 2007


This is cool.

The snarkers can shove it.
posted by Arturus at 1:53 PM on September 18, 2007


As someone who loves his cats dearly, and would be completely inconsolable if something were to happen to them, I'd have to disagree. My cats are property. They are property who are incredibly important to me, property dear enough to me that a forcible separation would cause me serious and permanent harm, and property which I have a responsibility to treat and care for in a certain manner. But they don't have rights, they are property, and they don't have an intrinsic value beyond that which they, like any other property, have to me.
posted by kafziel at 3:58 PM on September 18, 2007


I would have thought the 1937 case of Warriner vs. Warriner would have spurred more action in the legal space. I can't think of any other story that would have raised the issue within the public eye.
posted by infowar at 4:19 PM on September 18, 2007


Kafziel, I don't disagree with you - pets are not PEOPLE. But to say your cat is "merely" property, I don't think says quite enough.

One of the articles makes a distinction - would you be more upset if your cat's leg broke than if your coffee table's leg broke? If the table had a broken leg, or if a lamp broke, you'd probably just throw it out - not so with the cat. How would you feel if, in a divorce, a judge declined to give effect to your spouse's agreement to let you have a certain DVD? Well, a DVD is easily replaceable, another exact duplicate copy, precisely the same, can be purchased. What if the same scenario played out with your cat? What if you died, and none of your relatives felt like spending money on cat food and vet bills, so they just had your cat (perfectly healthy or not) euthanized for their convenience? What if instead of that, there was another option, where you designated in your will the person who would take your cat upon your death, and left them some money to care for the pet? Or where you asked that your cat be donated to a home or shelter where it would fine peace, health and love by being a therapy animal, or providing companionship to the elderly, etc.? Without these animal lawyers having done lots of work, your relatives could refuse to give effect to your instructions in that regard.

Most of animal law is not about giving animals rights, per se, but recognizing that a human is more harmed by the loss of a pet than by the loss of a lamp or a DVD. It's about recognizing the emotional attachment, and giving the PERSON rights to have those attachments, their wishes, respected by the law.

For me, if my husband ever left me, he can have every single piece of crap we own (note: not a legally binding promise), except my dog. She comes with me. She's way more important to me than any other property.
posted by bunnycup at 6:06 PM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


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