B.C. Judge Orders Shared Custody Of Pet Dog Under New Law

A judge in British Columbia (B.C.)orders the shared custody of a Golden Retriever based on new laws that now recognize pets as family members instead of mere properties.

And in what is considered a first-of-its-kind ruling, a Golden Retriever named Stella becomes part of legal history after her paw-rents were awarded shared custody of her.

According to B.C Supreme Court’s decision, the ruling stemmed from a claim filed in court in New Westminster by Sahar Bayat seeking exclusive care of Stella.

This came after she and her partner, Omid Mavedati, separated in 2023 after a three-year relationship and there was a dispute over who owned Stella.

It was revealed Stella was staying with Mavedati because it was his name that was on the pooch’s birth certificate. However, both Bayat and Mavedati split the cost when they purchased Stella on August 21, 2020.

Associate Judge Scott Nielsen ordered that both Bayat and Mavedati will share custody of Stella on a week-on/week-off basis.

Nielsen noted that “both the claimant and the respondent have shown a deep concern about the well being of Stella, and I am satisfied that in the circumstances the custody of Stella should be shared on an interim without‑prejudice basis.”

The judge also added, “both the claimant and the respondent clearly love Stella”.

The historic ruling came just months after the recent changes in B.C.’s Family Law Act in January.

Rebeka Breder, an animal law lawyer based in Vancouver, tells CTV News, “If people have the right to fight over their kids in court … they should have the exact same right to fight over their companion animal, because after all, companion animals are family.”

Breder said that the changes to the Family Law Act mean that court is now required to consider what’s in the best interest of pets.

“In the same way when a couple who has human kids separates and the couple doesn’t want to have anything to do with one another, they unfortunately still have to … because they have children they have to share,” she added.

Sahar Bayat tells CBC News, “I’m very very thankful for the new law. Cause you know, these days dogs are just like kids to everyone else.”

“They are my kids, and I will fight tooth and nail for them,” she added.

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