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Bogdanoski, Tony --- "The Marriage of Family Law and Animal Rights: How Should Australian Family Law Approach the Rise of 'Pet Custody' Disputes?" [2006] AltLawJl 51; (2006) 31(4) Alternative Law Journal 216

  • THE MARRIAGE OF FAMILY LAW AND ANIMAL RIGHTS: How should Australian family law approach the rise of ‘pet custody’ disputes?
  • THE MARRIAGE OF FAMILY LAW AND ANIMAL RIGHTS
    How should Australian family law approach
    the rise of ‘pet custody’ disputes?

    TONY BOGDANOSKI[*]

    Although many pet owners view their beloved Fido as a family member [there are] few really contentious disagreements over who will retain physical custody of the family pet … But divorce, being what it is, there have been cantankerous exceptions. For those inclined to fight over who gets the family cat, dog or parakeet, they need to know the court views pets not as people, but strictly as property to be allocated equitably among the parties along with the furniture.[1]

    The development of animal law as a legitimate area of legal practice and academic discourse over the past decade[2] inevitably raises a number of new challenges for the practice of contemporary family law. One of the most significant of these challenges to the family law system is determining the most appropriate method of resolving ‘pet custody’ disputes.[3] These disputes concern the issue of which party should be entitled to retain physical custody of the family pet (or pets) following the breakdown of the marital, de facto or domestic relationship of the parties.

    It can be said that family pets, or companion animals, occupy a curious place under Australian family law. On the one hand, family pets are protected from being abused by their owners by state animal protection legislation. On the other hand, at the same time, they are inconsistently viewed as mere chattels by the legal system when it comes to the disposition of assets following relationship breakdown.

    The interests of companion animals and those of their human guardians would be better served by removing this inconsistency, but not on the basis of a blanket implementation of a ‘best interests’ model analogous to that used for the resolution of parenting disputes. Nevertheless, the family law system cannot continue to overlook the fact that companion animals are sentient beings that have assumed a much greater importance within the lives of contemporary families and so should not continue to treat them as though they are simply assets to be equitably divided according to property law principles in contested family disputes.

    There should not be exclusive reliance on property law principles in deciding with which party the pet should remain after a relationship breakdown. Instead, this article suggests that the family law courts could further the interests of both the human and non-human parties by formulating a set of principles derived from both parenting and property law in ultimately determining which party the family pet ought to remain with following divorce or separation, especially since the legislature has shown no interest in doing this. It is argued that this approach ultimately avoids the establishment of any one overriding or paramount consideration, in contrast to the definitive test proposed by a ‘best interests of the pet’ model, which is clearly only relevant to parenting law.

    Pet custody disputes under Australian family law

    Despite the relatively long history of pet custody cases in the American family courts,[4] the issue has largely eluded Australia’s family lawyers[5] and has been left to animal welfare groups and animal rights activists to investigate. However, this ignorance among family lawyers is no longer tenable, if only because companion animals are increasingly regarded as integral members of the family by their human guardians, no different from the usual human protagonists of spouses, parents, children and grandparents that make up the family law reports. After all, it is only natural for family lawyers to take an active interest in the ‘regulation of domestic or personal relationships and [especially] the consequences that flow from the end of such relationships’.[6]

    To indicate the growing importance of the issue of pet custody, a survey in February 2005 surprisingly revealed that almost 40 per cent of British dog owners would be prepared to launch a custody battle to secure the future possession of the family pet.[7] Pet custody disputes are of concern to animal welfare and animal rights groups because they involve decision-making (whether judicial or administrative) that affects the future care and welfare of the family pet after relationship breakdown. At the same time, pet custody disputes are also becoming ‘a niche specialty for divorce lawyers’[8] in various jurisdictions, including North America. According to a poll conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in early 2006, nearly a quarter of 1500 divorce lawyers surveyed (23 per cent) across the United States noticed an increase in pet custody disputes. The survey further revealed that, of these disputes, more than 90 per cent involved the family dog, 5 per cent the family cat and the remaining 5 per cent involved more unusual animals including horses, cows and boa constrictors.[9]

    In the United States, family law (and especially the law of marriage) is almost entirely a state matter, so the interests of family members and spouses vis-à-vis each other will differ according to the applicable jurisdiction in which they are domiciled. This largely explains the conflicting pet custody outcomes and decisions in the United States. In Australia, matrimonial pet custody cases, at least, would be treated consistently as federal matters if and when any guidelines are developed by the family courts.

    Following the High Court decision in Re Wakim; Ex parte McNally,[10] the Family Court has lost the power to adjudicate on the ancillary property matters of unmarried de facto couples among other state family laws it could exercise previously. However, the reference of powers by the States to the Commonwealth in 1988 regarding ex-nuptial children means that de facto couples with children must still use the federal system for their parenting disputes, while continuing to use the state system for the resolution of their property disputes. Since family pets are obviously not human children of the parties, pet custody disputes between couples in de facto and other domestic relationships can only be addressed under the state system. So, if there is ultimately a dispute between a de facto couple over their children and their pets, the former would require resolution in the federal family court system while the latter would presumably be dealt with in the relevant state court depending on the value of the couple’s total assets.

    In contrast, regardless of whether family pets are considered by the court to be property or children, pet custody disputes between married couples naturally fall within the definition of ‘matrimonial cause’ in the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), such disputes flowing as they do from the marital relationship itself and its dissolution, and so would be a matter to be determined by the federal family courts.

    Family pets: property or persons?

    State-based North American family law statutes do not specifically provide courts with legislative assistance in resolving pet custody disputes (the same situation prevails in Australia). The outcomes of North American cases have often hinged on the personal biases of the presiding judges, including whether or not the presiding judge subscribes to the philosophy of the animal rights or animal welfare movement.[11] This is not an ideal situation, since there are no precedents to guide the judges in the area of pet custody, and significant discretion is vested in family court judges adjudicating on the ‘best interests’ of children and the equitable distribution of matrimonial and non-matrimonial property. This only increases the need for a carefully developed framework, whether judicial or legislative, both in North America and Australia, to ensure that future cases are decided consistently and, therefore, equitably for all of the parties involved, both human and non-human.

    An insurmountable divide currently exists between North American judges.[12] On the one hand, there are those who view family pets strictly as personal property to be equitably distributed among the parties irrespective of any emotional bonds the parties may have fostered with the pet. On the other hand, some judges are willing to recognise that companion animals, as sentient living beings, occupy a special place in the hearts of their human guardians as members of the family. The latter are thus more inclined to apply what amounts to a ‘best interests’ test derived from parenting law principles to determine the most suitable party with whom the family pet should remain and the extent, if any, of any visitation rights granted to the non-custodial party, as well as any liability for the maintenance and upkeep of that pet.

    Often, unique family possessions and memorabilia pose the greatest obstacles for divorcing or separating couples attempting to reach property settlements. These items may, from an outsider’s perspective, seem trivial, but to the divorcing or separating parties they are invaluable. The parties may even be capable of agreeing about the distribution of the marital home or other significant assets, but can ultimately be drawn into protracted legal proceedings because of a failure on their part to agree on a seemingly less significant proprietary issue. The issue of pet custody falls within this category.

    Section 2 of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (NZ) specifically excludes ‘heirlooms’ from the statutory definition of ‘family chattels’ and applies a different method of distributing these more contentious property items. Somewhat inconsistently this legislation explicitly includes ‘household pets’ within the definition of ‘family chattels’. This is in contrast to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) and State de facto legislation, which do not distinguish between categories of chattel and do not refer at all to household pets.

    The characterisation of family pets as personal property

    A classic legal definition of ‘property’ is Blackstone’s famous statement that ‘property is the sole and despotic dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in total exclusion of the right of any other individual in the universe’.[13] More recently, the Australian High Court has defined property as the ‘legally endorsed concentration of power over things and resources’.[14] Applying these definitions of ‘property’ to companion animals in the context of the judicial division of assets following the breakdown of marital and de facto relationships poses many problems for both the parties and the companion animal.

    As legal things and not beings, despite having the ability to feel pain and pleasure, family pets must naturally be allocated to only one of the parties, as is standard practice with divorce settlements. This means that, essentially, one of the parties must become the ‘winner’ and the other the ‘loser’. There is no possibility for shared ownership or possession of chattels following divorce or separation since ownership becomes vested in only one of the parties. Even if the property was a joint acquisition before the parties entered into their relationship, after divorce or separation one of the parties is expected to liquidate their entitlement in the family pet and in return be compensated by the other party. The proprietor thus assumes all the power to control access to their ‘property’, even if the family pet itself may desire access with their other ‘parent’.

    It is not difficult to see how many pet custody disputes, at their core, much like parenting disputes over children, can represent a power struggle between the parties. One party may seek to assume control and restrain the other from interfering with what they view as their rightful property, not uncommonly for malicious purposes.[15] There is no question that pet custody disputes can become just as unpleasant as those involving parenting disputes when both parties claim the companion animal as their own.

    An advantage of treating family pets as personal property, at least to an overworked family law system if not necessarily to the parties involved (including the family pet), is that the courts avoid the problem of having to enforce the ‘custody’ and ‘access’ rights of the parties. By giving the family pet solely to one of the parties, and leaving the other party empty-handed, the courts can rest assured that the parties cannot resort to further litigation over the same matter, with finality an important factor to be considered in the equitable distribution of matrimonial property.[16]

    However, it will be particularly distressing for the non-custodial party should a court ignore the reality that, although not having legal title in the family pet, nevertheless he or she maintained it and acted as primary caregiver. It is submitted that the courts should not overlook the non-financial contributions of a party who may not have purchased or otherwise possessed the pet before or after the relationship but nevertheless played a large role in maintaining the pet.[17] This is only consistent with the aims and goals of animal welfare, even if it does not go as far as vesting actionable rights[18] in the family pet in the form of taking their best interests into account. Some theorists, such as David Favre, have proposed an ‘equitable self-ownership’ model as a means of enshrining the interests of animals under the law, instead of conferring legal rights on animals.[19] While both a ‘rights’ approach and an ‘equitable self-ownership’ approach are ultimately aimed at removing the strictly proprietary status of animals under the common law, Favre’s approach lends itself to incremental change rather than a revolutionary legal change which may alienate a conservative legal system. Favre’s model also appears to be more practical since it challenges the legal system to treat animals as the subjects of a guardianship relationship not only within the confines of animal cruelty situations but in all realms of the law where the interests of animals are affected.[20]

    A party to a relationship breakdown will most likely be advised by their lawyer that the law has long treated companion animals as property and that the family courts would probably not entertain contrary arguments. Despite this, some parties have remained undeterred, justifiably unsatisfied by the operation of the common law, and have attempted to challenge the status quo by mounting the argument that the ‘best interests of the pet’ necessitates that party obtaining ‘custody’ of the pet after their marriage, de facto or domestic relationship has irretrievably broken down. No doubt this is a reflection of the fact that companion animals often represent much more to the parties than mere property.

    The characterisation of family pets as children: paradigm shift on the horizon?

    Pet custody litigants have attempted to convince North American courts to adopt a ‘best interests’ model by arguing that a paradigm shift has occurred within society such that pets are now fully-fledged members of the family household, and that this mandates a departure from prevailing common law. They have argued that while the legislature may have failed to act to change the common law,[21] this does not mean that the courts should also ignore this issue, continuing to treat companion animals as personal property when doing justice between the parties requires the court to review the law in light of changed social circumstances.

    In 2001, Switzerland became the first nation in the world to attempt to enshrine the rights of pets in divorce and other relationship breakdowns by giving them the same entitlements as children. Ultimately, the referendum did not pass despite the best efforts of animal rights activists. The proposed change would have required the application of the ‘best interests’ test to the family pet, where the parties couldn’t agree about who should keep the pet.

    Since most courts view companion animals purely as personal property to be equitably divided between disputing parties, along with other personal property, they have explicitly objected to the use of language such as ‘custody’ and ‘guardianship’ to describe physical custody of the family pet. To adopt such language would be to extend parenting law principles to non-human animals, which has never been the intention of the legislature, either in North America[22] or Australia.

    It is, therefore, unsurprising that some litigants have framed their actions in the property torts of trespass to goods, particularly in detinue and conversion. However, at least on a practical level, family lawyers tend to factor in (whether impliedly or explicitly) an amount in the property settlement, including any spousal maintenance that may be awarded, to cover the maintenance and upkeep of the family pet, whether or not the family pet itself is the subject of pet custody proceedings.[23]

    Appellate cases in the United States have concerned attempts by parties receiving ‘visitation rights’ to vary court-ordered ‘custody’ arrangements or to overturn trial decisions so that they ultimately obtain sole custody of the pet.[24] In the leading case of Bennett v Bennett,[25] the Florida District Court of Appeals for the Second District made it unequivocally clear that ‘pet custody’ disputes could not be brought before Florida courts, even if such cases were permitted to be brought in other jurisdictions (notably in the Californian courts). The trial court in Bennett awarded ‘custody’ of the family dog to the husband and gave visitation rights to the wife, who later filed a notice of motion claiming the husband was in contempt of court by refusing her access to the dog. However, the appellate court overturned the visiting rights of the wife, relying in part on standard property principles, and allowing new evidence to show that the dog was the premarital property of the husband. The appellate court was also guided by ‘floodgates’ policy considerations:

    Our courts are overwhelmed with the supervision of custody, visitation, and support matters related to the protection of our children. We cannot undertake the same responsibility as to animals.[26]

    Thus the court reasoned that the enforcement or proper ‘supervision’ of contentious parenting orders relating to children is difficult enough without further burdening the workload of the courts by extending the same to pet custody disputes. This approach can be criticised on the basis that administrative convenience is used to avoid engagement with the substantive issue. The courts should at least be prepared to develop some guidelines to clarify the way in which pets should be equitably divided at divorce or separation, taking into account the changing social mores about the place of pets within families.

    Family pets: neither property nor persons

    Ultimately, the judicial or legislative recognition and adoption of a ‘best interests of the pet’ test, at least in part,[27] would be a logical starting point in resolving pet custody disputes. Already state-based animal welfare and protection legislation[28] impliedly recognises through their prohibition of cruelty that companion or domestic animals (among others) are not inanimate property.[29] Animals must be treated with greater care than mere chattels. Obviously, people can treat their personalty in whatever manner they wish, including destroying or damaging it, but the same liberty does not extend to companion animals.[30] Furthermore, as with human children, family pets are often adversely affected by divorce and other relationship breakdowns.[31] The interests of the companion animals affected should be given some consideration, whether by the courts or primary dispute resolution decision-makers.

    There is growing evidence in the social science literature that children who have companion animals tend to cope better with the ramifications of their parents’ divorce or relationship breakdown than those who do not have pets.[32] Similarly, there is a growing body of research suggesting that divorce and separation can affect companion animals as much as it does children, if not more so. Dogs are more likely than cats to feel a great sense of loss as a result of a marital or shared household breaking down and to be more sensitive to the attendant discord and verbal abuse often accompanying the breakup.[33] Links have been shown to exist between animal abuse, on the one hand, and domestic and child abuse on the other.[34] Veterinarians are even being encouraged by some Australian and North American state and local governments to help fight child abuse in the family,[35] with some studies showing that ‘women will often remain in violent and dangerous situations rather than leave their pet behind with their abuser’.[36] This has led to some commentators arguing for the extension of injunctive relief to protect companion animals as well as abused or threatened humans where there is violence in the home.[37]

    It is proposed that the approach taken by the Texas First District Court of Appeals in Bueckner v Hamel[38] be adopted as the starting point by Australian family courts approaching pet custody matters, treating family pets neither as property nor children since they obviously do not fit into either category:

    Because of the characteristics of animals in general and of domestic pets in particular, [the court] consider(s) them to belong to a unique category of ‘property’ that neither statutory law nor case law has yet recognised.[39]

    However, this approach requires concerted active legislative and/or judicial action. For example, it might require the insertion of new provisions into the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) and equivalent state de facto legislation specifically dealing with the custody of pets following divorce or separation, distinct from the provisions already existing relating to parenting and property orders.

    What ultimately becomes evident is the need for empirical research to be carried out to examine the extent to which pet custody issues affect parties involved in Australian family law proceedings, an area of fast-growing importance in family law internationally.[40] Australia’s family courts, which pride themselves as ‘helping courts’ and originally developed ‘to assist reduction of bitterness and distress … and the alleviation of post-divorce problems’,[41] along with most family law academics, have overlooked the issue of pet custody.[42] While animal lawyers, academics and activists are pursuing this issue, it should naturally arouse the interest of family lawyers. There is a wealth of resources emanating from North America, where, as has been shown, the issue has a relatively well-established presence in the family law system.

    Conclusion

    It is too simplistic for the common law to continue relying solely on property principles to resolve pet custody disputes. Qualitative and quantitative sociological research[43] from a number of jurisdictions supports the claim that companion animals are regarded as fully fledged members of the family unit. Despite this, legal policy has not been formulated to give effect to, and adequately protect, the unique role occupied by companion animals in the family when the pet’s guardians dissolve their relationship with one another. This situation has often led to injustice and incoherence in the United States because of the conflicting decisions reached by the courts there, in the absence of legislative and judicial guidance. Neither the companion animal nor their disputing human guardians benefit from this uncertainty.

    The first step that should be taken, at the very least, is to recognise that family pets have a value which transcends their economic market-value worth, so that they deserve to be treated as occupying a place somewhere between mere chattels and children. This would allow the court determining a pet custody dispute to look at a broader range of factors than just which party has prevailing legal title of the pet. For example, a court could consider the arguably more important matter of the time and money each party spent looking after the family pet and developing an emotional bond with it during the period of the parties’ marriage or cohabitation. Both property and parenting law principles could therefore be applied in resolving the dispute. This approach avoids the inflexibility that the establishment of any one overriding or paramount consideration would create and would allow for greater incremental change beyond being confined to specific guidelines such as that proposed by the ‘best interests of the pet’ test.


    [*] TONY BOGDANOSKI is a Masters student at the University of Sydney.

    This article was produced as part degree requirement at the Faculty of Law, UTS, Sydney. The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Associate Professor Geoffrey Monahan, Steven White and

    Sue Bogdanoska.

    [1] Cynthia Fox, ‘Courts View Pets as Property in Divorce Battles,’ St Louis Post-Dispatch (St Louis, Missouri), 19 April 2006, A08.

    [2] See Nancy Perry, ‘Ten Years of Animal Law at Lewis and Clark Law School’ (2003) 9 Animal Law i, ix; Mary Rose Liverani, ‘Animal Law Graduates to Legal Discipline’ (2004) 42(6) Law Society Journal 16; Steven White, ‘Animals and the Law: A New Legal Frontier?’ [2005] MelbULawRw 10; (2005) 29 Melbourne University Law Review 317; Leonie Lamont, ‘For All Creatures, A Law Course Looks at Problems Great and Small’, Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney), 10 July 2004, 5.

    [3] Roza Gossage, ‘Pet Custody: The New Frontier in Family Law’ (2002) 45(5) Family Law [6] <http://www.illinoisbar.org/Sections/FamilyLaw/6-02b.htm> at 31 October 2006.

    [4] See, eg, Ann Britton, ‘Bones of Contention: Custody of Family Pets’, (Working Paper No 94, University of California-Berkeley, 2003) 1; see also Akers v Sellers 54 NE 2d 779 (1944), 114 Ind App 660.

    [5] There are no reported or unreported pet custody cases in Australia’s family or other courts. However, the media has sporadically documented this phenomenon, largely in the context of the high-profile divorces of celebrities and others in the public limelight: see, eg, Bronwyn Watson, ‘Who Gets the Dog?’ Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney), 3 May 1990, 7.

    [6] Definition of ‘family law’ in Peter Butt (ed), Butterworths Concise Australian Legal Dictionary (3rd ed, 2004) 169 (brackets and italics mine). See also definition of ‘matrimonial cause’ in Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) s 4.

    [7] Direct Line Pet Insurance, ‘Britain’s Dog Owners to Spend Thousands on Pet Custody’ <http://www.directline.com/about_us/news_030205x.htm> at 2 November 2006 (Press Release, February 2005).

    [8] Brad Smith, ‘Who Gets Fido? Former Couples Agree to Share’, Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida), 27 October 2003, 1.

    [9] See American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, ‘More Divorces Becoming Dogfights’ (Press Release, 26 June 2006).

    [10] [1999] HCA 27; (1999) 198 CLR 511. Wakim struck out as unconstitutional the cross-vesting system, specifically the vesting of state power in federal courts.

    [11] Joyce Tischler, ‘Lawyers Must Plan for More Cases About Animals’, Los Angeles Daily Journal (Los Angeles, Califoria), 27 May 2004, 1. See also Robert Garner, ‘Political Ideology and the Legal Status of Animals’ (2002) 8 Animal Law 77.

    [12] Rebecca Huss, ‘Separation, Custody, and Estate Planning Issues Relating to Companion Animals’ (2003) 74 University of Colorado Law Review 181, 182.

    [13] William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (first published 1765–69, 12th ed, 1978) vol 2, 1–2.

    [14] Yanner v Eaton (1999) 201 CLR 351, 366 (Gleeson CJ, Gaudron CJ, Kirby and Hayne JJ).

    [15] Danna Harman, ‘A Fiercer Battle in Today’s Divorces: Who’ll Get the Pooch?’ Christian Science Monitor, 26 January 2004 <http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0126/p11s01-lihc.html> at 19 October 2006.

    [16] See Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) s 79(4).

    [17] Eithne Mills and Keith Akers, ‘Who Gets the Cats … You or Me? Analyzing Contact and Residence Issues Regarding Pets upon Divorce or Separation’ (2002) 36 Family Law Quarterly 283, 299.

    [18] See Gary Francione, Animals, Property and the Law (1995) for a comprehensive analysis of the proprietary legal status of animals generally. See also Barbara Newell, ‘Animal Custody Disputes: A Growing Crack in the ‘Legal Thinghood’ of Nonhuman Animals’ (2000) 6 Animal Law 179.

    [19] David Favre, ‘A New Property Status for Animals’ in Cass Sunstein and Martha Nussbaum (eds), Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions (2004) 236.

    [20] For an interesting discussion about estate planning issues as they relate to companion animals, see Huss, above n 12, 326ff.

    [21] See Bennett v Bennett 655 So2d 109, 110–111 (1995).

    [22] See In the Marriage of Stewart 356 NW 2d 611, 612 (1984).

    [23] See Boschee v Duncan 133 ACWS (3d) 683 (2004), from Alberta, Canada. However, see also Warnica v Gering 142 ACWS (3d) 87, 88 (2005) which seems to have put an end to ‘pet support’ litigation, at least in Ontario, Canada.

    [24] In the Marriage of Stewart, n 22 above; Arrington v Arrington, 613 SW 2d 565, 565 (1981), Tex Civ App 1981.

    [25] 655 So 2d 109 (1995).

    [26] Ibid.

    [27] For example, this may necessitate taking into account any wishes of the family pet, pursuant to the recommendations of an animal behavioural expert’s report: see Linda Cawley, Legal Beagle: Diary of a Canine Counselor (1996) and Warren Eckstein and Denise Madden, Memoirs of a Pet Therapist (1998).

    [28] See, eg, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW). All other Australian State and Territory jurisdictions have comparable animal protection statutes.

    [29] See, eg, Part 2 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW) for offences against animals generally, and specifically s 5(1) for the prohibition on ‘cruelty’ against animals.

    [30] See, eg, the Companion Animals Act 1998 (NSW) s 3A, where the principal object of the Act is stated as being ‘to provide for the effective and responsible care and management of companion animals’.

    [31] Angie Brown, ‘Family Break-Up Has Pets Licking Wounds’, The Scotsman (Edinburgh), 23 February 2005, 12; Maryln Schwartz, ‘Helping Fido Get Through a Breakup’, Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 9 June 1987, 1C.

    [32] See, eg, Tanja Hoff and Reinhold Bergler, ‘The Positive Influence of Dogs on Children in Divorce Crises from the Mother’s Perspective’ (Paper presented at the 9th International Conference on Human-Animal Interactions, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, September 13–15, 2001).

    [33] See, eg, Katheryn Walker, The Heart That is Loved Never Forgets: Recovering from Loss: When Humans and Animals Lose Their Companions (1998).

    [34] Nicola Taylor, ‘Child Abuse, Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse: Considering the Links’ (2004) 12(1) National Child Protection Clearing House Child Abuse Prevention Newsletter (Australian Institute of Family Studies) [16].

    [35] Australian Veterinary Association, ‘Child Abuse Summit Should Include Animal Abuse’ (Press Release, 16 December 2004).

    [36] Taylor, above n 34.

    [37] Dianna Gentry, ‘Including Companion Animals in Protective Orders: Curtailing the Reach of Domestic Violence’ (2001) 13 Yale Law and Feminism 97; Eleonora Gullone, Anne Volant and Judy Johnson, ‘The Co-occurrence of Family Violence and Animal Abuse: A Comparison of Violent and Nonviolent Families’ (Paper presented at the Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference: Step Forward for Families — Research, Practice and Policy, Melbourne, 2003).

    [38] 886 SW2d 368 (Tex App 1st DCA 1994).

    [39] Ibid (Hedges and Duggan JJ) (footnotes omitted). See also Laura Ireland, former director, National Center for Animal Law at Lewis & Clark Law School (Portland, Oregon), quoted in Stephen Beaven, ‘Who Gets the Dog?’ The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 19 April 2003, D1.

    [40] Paul Waldau, ‘Will the Heavens Fall? De-Radicalizing the Precedent-Breaking Decision’ (2001) 7 Animal Law 75, 75.

    [41] Joint Select Committee on the Family Law Act, Family Law in Australia (1980) [7.10].

    [42] Chris Pippos, ‘Pets Used as Bargaining Power in Custody Battles’, Guardian Messenger (Adelaide), 29 August 2001, 26.

    [43] See Aaron Beck and Aaron Katcher, Between Pets and People: The Importance of Animal Companionship (revised ed, 1996). See also Peter and Ingrid Salmon, ‘Who Knows Who? Psychological Research into the Human-Pet Bond in Australia’ in Aaron Katcher and Aaron Beck (eds), New Perspectives on Our Lives with Companion Animals (1983).


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