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Pug Custody Battle Illustrates Growing Field of Pet Law

July 29, 2009 12:30 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
A New Jersey woman's fight to get her dog Dexter back from her ex-fiancé is breaking ground in the emerging field of animal rights law.

Dexter Setting Legal Precedent in NJ

Doreen Houseman of Williamstown, N.J., claims to have had an oral agreement with her ex-fiancé, Eric Dare, "to let her have the dog after she moved out of their house" in 2006, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. However, once she started dating again, the agreement "soured."

Animal rights lawyer Gina Calogero will represent Houseman in a second trial to determine custody of Dexter. Last March, "a three-judge appeals panel ordered a new trial," claiming that Superior Court Judge John Tomasello "should not have treated Dexter as just another piece of furniture during the first trial." The Animal Legal Defense Fund and Lawyers in Defense of Animals supported Houseman's appeal.

Calogero told the Inquirer that the second trial represents "a landmark decision," but Dare's attorney, James M. Carter, sees the situation differently. "If you tell family judges they have to treat every pet as a child to determine which 'parent' keeps the pet, or how to divide parenting time, this will add a heavy burden on an already heavy caseload," Carter told the Inquirer.

Reference: Divorce and dog resources

FindingDulcinea's Divorce Web Guide helps you understand the divorce process, and covers topics such as division of assets and divorce laws. The guide also provides links to counseling resources and has advice for dealing with children and divorce.

FindingDulcinea's Dog Care Web Guide has information on laws relating to dog ownership, including leash laws, dog licenses and custody.

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