Your Dog Is Legally Not Your Kid, No Matter How You Treat It, According to Canadian Judge

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

I treat my cat like my adult son—he’s an artistic, fierce-willed boy capable of anything he sets his mind to, and I make it my mission to fill him with a confusing mixture of overblown praise about his genius, and insults about his mediocrity to knock him down a peg and make sure he has wholly realistic expectations about his potential. But apparently that’s not good enough for Mr. Law over in Canada.


A Saskatoon judge named Richard Danyliuk weighed in on a case last August in which a divorcing couple—Kelly Henderson and Suzanne Henderson—fought over who had legal rights over dogs Kenya and Willow.

“Dogs are wonderful creatures. They are often highly intelligent, sensitive and active, and are our constant and faithful companions. Many dogs are treated as members of the family with whom they live,” his decision reads. “But after all is said and done, a dog is a dog. At law it is property, a domesticated animal that is owned. At law it enjoys no familial rights.”

He goes on to argue that dogs are not children for several fair reasons. For example, we do not buy our children from breeders; we “tend not to breed our children with other humans to ensure good bloodlines” (don’t we though?); when our kids are ill, we do not “engage in an economic cost/benefit analysis to see whether the children receive medical treatment,”; we do not muzzle our children or “put them to death” for transgressions.

Danyliuk also took the opportunity to shame the couple for taking up valuable and strained legal resources on the matter of dog custody:

In a justice system that is incredibly busy, where delay has virtually become systemic, where there are cases involving child welfare and family matters that wait months for adjudication, these parties have chosen to throw this dispute into the mix. I am sure that to them, this is the most important matter. But it must be kept in perspective and measured against other matters, many of which inarguably are of more importance.

In a depressing modern sequel to the Judgement of Solomon, he later said that if the couple cannot decide where the dogs go, they will have to be sold (perhaps) and the proceeds split, which, to be fair, my parents did to me.



we do not “engage in an economic cost/benefit analysis to see whether the children receive medical treatment”

Well, unless you’re a Republican Congressman from Michigan: