Animal Companion Law

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Legalities: personal injury, trial attorneys, pain and suffering caps, etc. the legislature and the media gnaw these bones so fiercely and so regularly, many of us tune out and turn off on anything to do with the law.

However, there is one area of potential interest to any pet owner/lover. A relatively young field, animal companion law is fascinating and it's drawing increasing attention from the media.The Los Angeles Times Magazine recently published the following article:

"To Love, Honor and Belly-Scratch: Marriages come and go. Judging by the rising number of pet-custody disputes, though, some passions endure." January 9, 2005

Here are a few arresting quotes:

"The key difference between child and animal custody cases, however, is that in the former, the welfare of the child is paramount, whereas the animal's interest rarely has a bearing. The letter of the law in all 50 states is stark on the subject a pet is property, 'chattel,' more like a piece of furniture than a family member. To arrange joint custody for a dog is legally equal to arguing a visitation schedule for a sofa . . . But then other judges, pet owners themselves, understand the emotional difference between relating to a dining table and relating to a dog. Increasingly, these judges have ruled to protect this relationship."

Los Angeles attorney Sandra Toye is one of a growing number of lawyers in this field whose mission is to enhance the legal status of all animals.

According to the article mentioned above, in the interests of animals always a precondition with Toye she has recently fought and won several custody disputes, earning fees in excess of $100,000.

Toye hosts a website with "search" function. A search for, "dog custody," produced 27 documents, including "vicious dog hearings," "custody battles," "legal animal issues" and "animal law in practice."

To visit her website, click: Toyle & Associates - Animal Law

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