Voices For Pets
We want to thank you for all your support, and Pepper wants to thank you. The old law has been amended recognizing our loved ones in divorce. This, after five years struggling for recognition. While it fails to recognize pets as sentient beings offering rights, however, does allow the courts to be petitioned for custody or visitation with the best interest of the pet a priority. These laws while unavailable only a few years ago, fortunately Pepper is still alive and proud to have made an impact changing how animals are viewed. Small steps people, small steps. Thank you!!
The old law, 750 ILCS 5/503, which is the law that governs the disposition of marital property, is amended with a new paragraph, 750 ILCS 5/503(n). The Illinois legislature placed the new pet custody law in Section 5 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, in subsection 503, the statute governing the disposition of property in a divorce.
Section 5/503 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act is amended as follows:
If the court finds that a companion animal of the parties is a marital asset, it shall allocate the sole or joint ownership of and responsibility for a companion animal of the parties.
In issuing an order under this subsection, the court shall take into consideration the well-being of the companion animal.
As Bill Barthel vs. Barthel or "Peppers Bill" is currently being drafted for introduction for bill presentation into the Illinois General Assembly in Springfield, I would personally like to thank those countless supporters who have contacted me via email and from various social media platforms from across the country. I would also like to thank the variety of legal counsel representation that took their own time over countless hours, phone calls, and in person discussion pro bono, for Pepper, myself, and pet owners alike for this very personal and rewarding victory. You know who you are. I would also like to thank prior counsel for having withdrawn early clarifying dispasstionate tendencies and ignorance toward pets and pet owners rights. It is for this reason that Pepper is in his rightful home. It is from this support that it has been made aware of the silent struggle experienced across the country when rightful pet owners are potentially forced never to see there loving partners ever again.
Despite numerous similar cases heard in other States for pet recognition, shamefully your pet is viewed as a table, lamp or other similar inert "object". Under Fourth Amendment rights, people are not aware that animals are still considered "property". In addition, are subject to who has the pet at the moment, and in extreme circumstances can be placed in a shelter if contesting parties cannot agree. This bill to clarify is not meant to mirror child custody laws and further drag down our legal system yet is drafted to allow initially for appointment of an appointed impartial court pet arbitrator that would then give its recommendations based on investigative measures. Pet custody is not for every pet owner during separation for those displaced by never seeing there partner ever again, yet the option should be made available for those who truly care and cannot live without there sidekick.
We can use your support as we attempt to have Illinois take a bold stand in becoming the first State to recognize our loved ones as living breathing beings with a voice during trying times of separation. It should be heard during this time who the pet best belongs with, who feeds for the pet, and who cares for the pet when determining placement. Your support is welcome as we encourage you to read the bill and contact your local State Assemblymen when being introduced and pushed threw the floor.
CURRENT AND PREVIOUS CASE REFERENCE:
SENTELL V. NEW ORLEANS& C.R. CO., FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, DOMESTICATED ANIMALS HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED PERSONAL PROPERTY. IN AMERICAN JURISPRUDENCE, THE SUPREME COURT ARTICULATED THIS VIEW IN 1897 IN STATING THAT “[B]Y THE COMMON LAW, AS WELL AS BY THE LAW OF MOST, IF NOT ALL, THE STATES, DOGS ARE SO FAR RECOGNIZED AS PROPERTY.” AND, WITH FEW EXCEPTIONS, THIS ANCIENT DOCTRINE REMAINED UNQUESTIONED FOR ANOTHER CENTURY.
ZAGER V. DIMILIA, 524 N.Y.S. 2D 968, (1978). VALUE OF THE PROPERTY SHOULD NOT BE APPLIED IN A CASE WHERE…A LIVING CREATURE IS INVOLVED”.
RAYMOND V. LACHMANN, 695 N.Y.S.2D 308 (1999); COURTS IN NEW YORK, MARYLAND, AND TEXAS HAVE ORDERED SHARED CUSTODY OR VISITATION OF ANIMAL COMPANIONS, BASED SOLELY OR AT LEAST PARTLY ON THE INTERESTS OF THE ANIMALS AT ISSUES.
ASSAL V. KIDWELL, CIVIL NO. 164421 (MD. CIR.CT., MONTGOMERY CTY. DEC. 3, 1999); ONE SHORTCOMING OF THE LAW IS THAT IT HAS NOT MODERNIZED TO DISTINGUISH PETS FROM FARM ANIMALS. WHEN ANIMALS WERE PART OF THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION, PERHAPS IT MADE SOME LEGAL SENSE TO TREAT THEM THE SAME AS FACTORY EQUIPMENT. HOWEVER, THE TIME IS LONG PAST WHEN THE LAW SHOULD RECOGNIZE THAT WE ARE NO LONGER AN AGRARIAN SOCIETY AND THAT TRACTORS AND SIMILAR EQUIPMENT HAVE, IN FACT, HEAVILY REPLACED ANIMALS AS A MEANS OF FARM PRODUCTION OR FAMILY INCOME.
ARRINGTON V. ARRINGTON, 613 S.W.2D 565 (TEX APP. 1981). COURTS DECIDING CUSTODY ISSUES ARE INCREASINGLY FINDING THE INTERESTS OF ANIMALS MUST BE CONSIDERED. COURTS IN NEW YORK, MARYLAND, AND TEXAS HAVE ORDERED SHARED CUSTODY OR VISITATION OF ANIMAL COMPANIONS, BASED SOLELY OR AT LEAST PARTLY ON THE INTERESTS OF THE ANIMALS AT ISSUES.
BENNETT V. BENNETT. FLORIDA DISTRICT COURT’S JUDGMENT OF DISSOLUTION IN ALL AREAS EXCEPT ONE: POSSESSION OF THE DOG, “RODDY.” FOLLOWING A HEARING IN WHICH THE HUSBAND ASSERTED HIS CLAIM TO THE DOG AS A “PREMARITAL ASSET,” THE TRIAL JUDGE GRANTED POSSESSION OF RODDY TO MR. BENNETT. HOWEVER, SYMPATHETIC TO THE WIFE, THE COURT ALSO GRANTED VISITATION RIGHTS TO MS. BENNETT EVERY OTHER WEEKEND AND EVERY OTHER CHRISTMAS. BOTH PARTIES FILED A SERIES OF MOTIONS CONTESTING THE COURT’S DECISION.
DESANCTIS AND PRITCHARD, NO. 2990 EA 2001, 2002 PENNSYLVANIA SUP. CT., JULY 5, 2002. PARTIES HAD A SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT INCLUDING SHARED POSSESSION OF THE FAMILY PET. HUSBAND ASSUMED MORE THAN HIS SHARE OF THE MARITAL DEBT, IN EXCHANGE FOR THIS SHARED POSSESSION OF THE FAMILY PET. LATER, WIFE REFUSES TO COMPLY WITH THE AGREEMENT, HUSBAND PETITIONS THE COURT TO ENFORCE THE AGREEMENT. COURT. THE TRIAL COURT AND ALL HIGHER COURTS REFUSED TO RECOGNIZE THAT PARTIES CAN CREATE A SHARED PROPERTY INTEREST IN A PET; DESCRIBING HUSBAND’S COMPLAINT AS “SEEKING AN ARRANGEMENT ANALOGOUS, IN LAW, TO A VISITATION SCHEDULE FOR A TABLE OR A LAMP.”
RAYMOND V. LACHMAN, NEW YORK PLAINTIFF AND DEFENDANT HAD BEEN ROOMMATES AND PLAINTIFF’S CAT HAD LIVED WITH THEM. THE TWO SEPARATED AND DEFENDANT FELT THE CAT BELONGED WITH HIM. PLAINTIFF SOUGHT RELIEF TO OBTAIN PERMANENT CUSTODY OF HIS “PROPERTY”.
AKERS V. SELLERS. 114 IND.APP.660, 54 N.E.2D 779 CONTAINS MANY OF THE PROBLEMS IN PLACING A DOG. THE “TRUE VALUE” OF THE DOG TO THE PARTIES WAS NOT USED, BUT INSTEAD WAS SET ARBITRARILY AT $25. THE COURT RAISED THE QUESTION OF THE PROPRIETY OF USING COURT RESOURCES TO DETERMINE THE ISSUE OF THE DOG'S RESIDENCE, BUT CONCLUDED THAT BECAUSE DOGS GIVE GREAT COMFORT BY THEIR COMPANIONSHIP, THE COURT WOULD ADDRESS THE PROBLEM “WITHOUT ANY FEELING OF INJURED DIGNITY.” WHEN THE COUPLE SEPARATED, THE DOG WAS LEFT BEHIND, SO THE WIFE JUST “NATURALLY CAME INTO CUSTODY OF THE DOG.” THE COURT CHOSE TO AVOID THE QUESTION AS TO “WHETHER THE INTERESTS AND DESIRES OF THE DOG” SHOULD GOVERN THE DECISION OR THE “BRUTAL AND UNFEELING BASIS OF LEGAL TITLE.” APPARENTLY BASED ON THE HUSBAND’S LEAVING THE DOG WITH THE WIFE, THE COURT FOUND THAT HE HAD GIVEN THE DOG TO THE WIFE AND THAT “NO REASON WAS SHOWN WHY POSSESSIONSHOULD NOT ACCOMPANY OWNERSHIP.
THE 2000 “PERKINS CASE” IS PERHAPS THE MOST INFAMOUS PET CUSTODY DISPUTE. IN THIS CASE, AN AFFLUENT SAN DIEGO COUPLE LAUNCHED AN ALL-OUT WAR OVER THE CUSTODY OF “GIGI,” A LITTLE DOG WHO REPORTEDLY TOOK UP HALF OF THE PERKINS’ THREE-DAY DIVORCE TRIAL. THROUGHOUT THE COURSE OF THE LITIGATION, MS. PERKINS ALLEGEDLY INVESTED SOME $146,000 IN THE CASE TO FINANCE, AMONG OTHER THINGS, A “CANINE BONDING” STUDY CONDUCTED BY A PROFESSIONAL ANIMAL BEHAVIORIST AND A VIDEO ABOUT THE DOG TITLED “A DAY IN THE LIFE [OF GIGI].” SEE, FIGHTING LIKE CATS AND DOGS, P. 439).
JONATHAN RANKIN, A BOSTON ATTORNEY WHO RECENTLY LEFT THE FIRM GLICKMAN TURLEY TO OPEN HIS OWN ANIMAL LAW PRACTICE, “COURTS ARE ALWAYS BEHIND SOCIETY.”
"BY STATUTE OR BY PRECEDENT, POSITIVE CHANGES WILL EVENTUALLY IMPROVE FUTURE PET CUSTODY DISPUTES. “IF CORPORATIONS CAN BE PERSONS IN THE EYES OF LAW, IF SHIPS CAN BE PERSONS IN THE EYES OF THE LAW, THEN THE LAW SHOULD BE ABLE TO FIGURE OUT SOMETHING FOR ANIMALS.”