Complete Clarity Solicitors


Pet Disputes/Dog Dispute by Jenna Anderson

At Complete Clarity Solicitors, we understand that a pet can be like another member of your family. In the past year alone, we have seen an increase of 72 per cent in enquiries involving ownership or possession of animals. Whilst this does primarily focus on disputes involving dogs, the principles discussed here in this video can apply to all forms of pet disputes.

When a dispute arises involving your pet it is easy to let emotions take over and passions can quickly escalate. Disputes can arise for any number of reasons however most commonly, we tend to see them occur when a couple has separated and ownership of their shared pet is being disputed. Essentially, this can be seen as a dispute where two people are asserting rights over one animal. You may hear it referred to as a pet custody dispute.

Whenever any legal dispute arises, our strongest advice is always that you seek the assistance of a solicitor. At Complete Clarity Solicitors we recognise that sometimes feel intimidating, particularly if you have never spoken with a solicitor before and you are already stressed and anxious due to the situation you are in. But you’re not the only person who has felt like this and found themselves in a similar situation before.

Questions to consider when dealing with Pet Dispute / Dog Dispute

The first question to consider when dealing with a dispute like this is how the law views your pet. In Scotland, pets form part of what is called corporeal moveable property. This is property which are tangible assets, more commonly referred to as goods. Your pet will fall into this second category as it is a physical asset belonging to you.

The court will therefore view a pet dispute from a similar lens that they would any other ownership dispute regarding goods, such as ownership of a car, jewellery or a piece of art. There are several different factors that the court may consider. This includes but is not limited to:

· Who appears on the insurance certificate and microchip as the owner of your pet?

· Who is registered as the owner with your vet?

· Who generally looks after the family pet?

· Who is responsible for daily expenses such as food?

· If you were a couple sharing the pet, was the pet purchased before or during the time of your relationship

· If it was purchased before your relationship, who bought the pet

· If it was purchased during your relationship, were you living together at the time

Court Decision on the Dispute – Dog Ownership Dispute / Pet Ownership

No two cases are ever the same and you should therefore seek specific guidance tailored to the facts of your case. The court can ultimately make any number of decisions regarding your case. This can include:

· A decision about who the owner of the pet is

· An order for your pet to be returned to you if it is deemed that the person keeping your pet is not the owner

· A monetary fine for wrongful retention of the pet

Not every matter in dispute will require an Order from the court. Cases can be resolved through alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation. This involves an independent third party who will endeavour to assist the parties in reaching an agreement about who is the owner, or perhaps, how ownership and care is to be shared.

Minute of Agreement

Alternatively, you can look to enter into a Minute of Agreement. This is essentially a contract where both parties, with the assistance of solicitors, agree to written terms which can determine what is to happen with your shared pet. This can include quite literally anything to do with your pet but most commonly deals with issues such as who is to care for the pet and when, a rota of when this is to change, responsibility for veterinary costs and daily care costs and provisions for should either party circumstances change, i.e if they were to move to a different area.

This can help to keep matters out with the court and as amicable as possible. Ultimately, if you are planning on continuing to share the caring responsibilities, this may be the best outcome for everyone involved.

Just like every pet is different and has their personality, so too is every case unique. What works for one client may not work for another. The important thing is that you are aware of your rights and also your options for how to resolve matters. If this sounds like something you may need assistance with, contact us today to arrange a free-of-charge consultation.