Kayleh Farnham and Elijah Collier were involved in a romantic relationship.
As a B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal relates, the two moved in together sometime after May 24, 2019.
While cohabiting, Farnham and Collier bought a dog in December of the same year.
On October 11, 2020, the relationship ended. Farnham left, and Collier kept the dog.
Tribunal member Sherelle Goodwin noted that both parties are “emotionally attached to the dog”.
Farnham wanted the dog back, filed a claim before the CRT for its return or get compensated for $900, and this was where Goodwin came in and ruled in favour of the woman.
Although many people consider pets as members of the family, Goodwin reminds that the law treats animals differently.
Under the law, pets are personal property, not family members.
“This means that disputes about what happens to pets after breakups are about who has the best property claim for the dog, rather than who would be the best caretaker for the dog,” Goodwin wrote in her reasons for decision.
Because of this, Goodwin did not address the parties’ submissions on who is in the best position to care for the dog.
Rather, the case is about who has a better property claim.
In this instance, the woman presented evidence that she paid for the dog’s expenses from the time it was bought and until before the relationship ended.
“In support Miss Farnham provided bank statements and receipts showing she paid $2,414.48 at pet stores and veterinarians between December 2019 and September 2020,” Goodwin wrote.
Moreover, “The dog’s medical records show Miss Farnham paid for his vaccinations, examinations, and to have the dog neutered.”
Collier claimed that he also paid for the dog’s expenses, but did not provide a list or any other evidence, “despite being given the opportunity to do so”.
“On balance, I find Miss Farnham has a stronger ownership claim over the dog because of her paid expenses,” Goodwin ruled.
Goodwin ordered Collier to return the dog to his former girlfriend.
Farnham also won the other aspect of her claim, which was to be paid for living expenses and rent she loaned to Collier while they were together.
All in all, she gets the dog back and some cash.