#5: Who Gets the Dog? The Battle for Pet Custody

#5: Who Gets the Dog? The Battle for Pet Custody

March 16, 2018


Episode 5 of the Paw & Order podcast is jam-packed! Hosts Peter Sankoff and Camille Labchuk give you all the details on a groundbreaking new pet custody case from the Newfoundland & Labrador Court of Appeal. In Baker v Harmina, a young former couple fought over who would get custody of Mya, a Bernese mountain dog-poodle mix. Mr. Baker was awarded full custody, based on the conception that the only thing that matters is who bought Mya. But a dissenting judge disagreed, and would have given the two joint custody, stating that “ownership of a dog is more complicated to decide than, say, a car, or a piece of furniture.”

Peter and Camille talk about the sorry state of pet custody case law in Canada, why judges should stop pretending that pet custody isn’t important enough for courts to consider, and what this new appellate-level decision and its powerful dissent mean for animals.

They also discuss an important development in the ongoing legal fight to free Lucy the Elephant from the Edmonton Zoo. In March, Zoocheck and other animal advocates went to the Alberta Court of Appeal to challenge the government for issuing an operating license to the Edmonton Zoo, despite the Zoo’s failure to comply with provincial laws protecting Lucy. The court hasn’t ruled yet, but this latest case could have major implications for animals across the country.

The hosts also discuss some developments in the two Vancouver Aquarium cases, Barbara Streisand cloning her dog (face palm!), a New Brunswick petition to get live lobsters out of store tanks, and how to become an animal lawyer. As a bonus, Peter shares an original song and a spoken word piece that his students prepared as part of a creative animal law assignment.

Do you have a question about Canadian animal law? Tweet our hosts, or drop them an email at [email protected], and they’ll do their best to answer it in a future episode.


Show notes:

Baker v Harmina, 2018 NLCA 15

Henderson v Henderson, 2016 SKQB 2016

Reece v Edmonton, 2011 ABCA 238


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Animal Justice

Peter Sankoff

Camille Labchuk


Animal Justice

Peter Sankoff


Animal Justice

Camille Labchuk


Special thanks:

To our producer, Shannon Milling.

To Kevin Lacroix for the podcast logo and for the musical sting in our podcast intro.

To DJ Quads for our intro, transition and outro music.




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