Houseman v. Dare,  — A.2d —-, 2009 WL 586583 (N.J. Super. A.D 2009)

A woman was awarded $1500 for a dog that her fiancé refused to return to her after breakup of the relationship.  The Appeals court ruled that money was inadequate compensation for the pet and concluded that a pet, like a family heirloom, has “special subjective value” that cannot be compensated by money alone.

Bennett vs Bennett 1995 (Florida)

Husband appealed judgment in divorce proceeding which awarded wife visitation with parties’ dog. The District Court of Appeal held the dog was personal property subject to equitable distribution and was not subject to award of custody or visitation.

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Raymond v. Lachmann 1999 (New York)

New York appeals court granted custody of pet cat.

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Desanctis vs Pritchard 2002 (Pennsylvania)

Former husband filed complaint seeking shared custody of the dog he and his wife acquired during their marriage. PA appeals court held that under the clear and unambiguous terms of the divorce agreement, the dog and his social schedule belonged exclusively to the wife. The husband attempted to argue the dog should be treated similar to a child. The Court, however, stated “In seeking “shared custody” and a “visitation” arrangement, Appellant appears to treat Barney, a dog, as a child. Despite the status owners bestow on their pets, Pennsylvania law considers dogs to be personal property.”
(Note – the husband appealed to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, but that court refused to hear the appeal. No further legal remedies are available to the husband).

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Arrington vs Arrington 1981 (Texas)

Texas appeals court permitted court ordered visitation rights with respect to a family pet following a divorce decree.

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