Weird News

Canadian Judge Rules That Dogs Aren’t Children

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A judge in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, recently ruled that dogs can’t be treated like children, as part of a divorce case. And while I’m as big a fan of puppies as the next person, Justice Richard Danyliuk’s argument makes a lot of sense.

Here’s the backstory: a divorcing couple–married 16 years–were dealing with a “custody” case involving their two dogs, Kenya and Willow (a.k.a. Willy). The wife wanted the dogs, with only visitation rights for the husband, and vice-versa. They argued that this should be treated like a “traditional” custody argument, one that would usually include human children.

This whole dispute ended up in front of Danyliuk, who seemed pretty annoyed that this landed in his courtroom, saying: “To consume scarce judicial resources with this matter is wasteful. In my view such applications should be discouraged.” Danyliuk also expressed frustration that the legal filings by the couple included a lot of extraneous information, including the wife’s claim that her husband had not been very attentive to their cats earlier in their relationship.

But Danyliuk also made a few different compelling arguments why dogs simply aren’t children:

In Canada, we tend not to purchase our children from breeders.

We tend not to breed our children with other humans to ensure good bloodlines, nor do we charge for such services.

When our children are seriously ill, we generally do not engage in an economic cost/benefit analysis to see whether the children are to receive medical treatment, receive nothing or even have their lives ended to prevent suffering.

When our children act improperly, even seriously and violently so, we generally do not muzzle them or even put them to death for repeated transgressions.

Danyliuk pointed out that pets aren’t legally treated exactly the same as traditional property, as there are laws that protect them from abuse and harm, but at the end of the day they are, for all intents and purposes, property.

So, despite how  much you might love your furry friend, they aren’t going to be treated like children in the courtroom–at least in front of this one Canadian judge.

Anneliese Mahoney
Anneliese Mahoney is Managing Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at



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