Born Ten years ago in a rural country setting south of Chicago to a litter of seven brothers and sisters, Pepper, a Labrador Retriever was welcomed into a home that was only to be temporary.
Similar to child custody litigation, he was unfortunately used as a tool, while separated from his rightful owner during a contentious divorce. The arduous trial lasting years would make National headlines, since no laws existed at the time protecting neither the litigant nor animal.
Despite numerous similar cases heard in other States for pet recognition, shamefully your pet is viewed as a table, lamp or similar inert "object."
From this, "Peppers Bill" was created for introduction before the Illinois General Assembly while efforts from courageous Illinois Senator Linda Holmes would take precedence making it to the house floor for the 100th Regular Session.
Illinois Senate Bill 1261, aptly titled Ownership For Companion Animal, would have its first reading on February 9th, 2017, pass the Illinois Senate on April 26th, 2017, pass the Illinois House of Representatives on May 30th, 2017 and become law on August 25th, 2017. Almost sweeping votes, one is left to wonder why it had taken so long.
From this law now provides for the best interest of the animal. Similar to child custody: who cares for the pet, feeds them, and spends most time with them.
* SPOILER ALERT BELOW FOR THOSE WHO PURCHASED THE BOOK *
Years later, Pepper now lives with his rightful owner where he enjoys daily hikes, frequent travel, and hogging the bed wherever he lays his head.
From this process, a seed had been planted further pursuing unfair animal practices that other States abide by similar law. Much larger and more important than Peppers trial, exists today a wider calling for Animal Liberation and Welfare. That they be recognized as living being sentient creatures holding the same ability to reason, love, and experience pain just as we do.
While man may brandish a larger stick and an assumed higher intellect, should be used for compassion and empathy as their guardian rather than for domination and cruelty.
“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”
~ Mark Twain ~
Forgot our Boarding Papers, so off we went skiing with Pepper in tow.
Potty break and hike along I-25.
On one of many trails.
Two beds, yet would insist we sleep in one.
Day of the final trail date on our way home.
Day at the Beach
Many interested have inquired if Pepper is still alive. This past November 2018, Pepper celebrated his 10th birthday. Recent veterinarian visits and x-rays have determined he suffers from severe arthritis in his back legs, however he remains in great spirits while taking regular pain medication. He still enjoys his hikes while on more forgiving trails, less hilly and not as far.
PREVIOUS CASE REFERENCE MATERIAL
SENTELL V. NEW ORLEANS& C.R. CO., FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, DOMESTICATED ANIMALS HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED PERSONAL PROPERTY. IN AMERICAN JURISPRUDENCE, THE SUPREME COURT ARTICULATED THIS VIEW IN 1897 IN STATING THAT “[B]Y THE COMMON LAW, AS WELL AS BY THE LAW OF MOST, IF NOT ALL, THE STATES, DOGS ARE SO FAR RECOGNIZED AS PROPERTY.” AND, WITH FEW EXCEPTIONS, THIS ANCIENT DOCTRINE REMAINED UNQUESTIONED FOR ANOTHER CENTURY.
ZAGER V. DIMILIA, 524 N.Y.S. 2D 968, (1978). VALUE OF THE PROPERTY SHOULD NOT BE APPLIED IN A CASE WHERE…A LIVING CREATURE IS INVOLVED”.
RAYMOND V. LACHMANN, 695 N.Y.S.2D 308 (1999); COURTS IN NEW YORK, MARYLAND, AND TEXAS HAVE ORDERED SHARED CUSTODY OR VISITATION OF ANIMAL COMPANIONS, BASED SOLELY OR AT LEAST PARTLY ON THE INTERESTS OF THE ANIMALS AT ISSUES.
ASSAL V. KIDWELL, CIVIL NO. 164421 (MD. CIR.CT., MONTGOMERY CTY. DEC. 3, 1999); ONE SHORTCOMING OF THE LAW IS THAT IT HAS NOT MODERNIZED TO DISTINGUISH PETS FROM FARM ANIMALS. WHEN ANIMALS WERE PART OF THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION, PERHAPS IT MADE SOME LEGAL SENSE TO TREAT THEM THE SAME AS FACTORY EQUIPMENT. HOWEVER, THE TIME IS LONG PAST WHEN THE LAW SHOULD RECOGNIZE THAT WE ARE NO LONGER AN AGRARIAN SOCIETY AND THAT TRACTORS AND SIMILAR EQUIPMENT HAVE, IN FACT, HEAVILY REPLACED ANIMALS AS A MEANS OF FARM PRODUCTION OR FAMILY INCOME.
ARRINGTON V. ARRINGTON, 613 S.W.2D 565 (TEX APP. 1981). COURTS DECIDING CUSTODY ISSUES ARE INCREASINGLY FINDING THE INTERESTS OF ANIMALS MUST BE CONSIDERED. COURTS IN NEW YORK, MARYLAND, AND TEXAS HAVE ORDERED SHARED CUSTODY OR VISITATION OF ANIMAL COMPANIONS, BASED SOLELY OR AT LEAST PARTLY ON THE INTERESTS OF THE ANIMALS AT ISSUES.
BENNETT V. BENNETT. FLORIDA DISTRICT COURT’S JUDGMENT OF DISSOLUTION IN ALL AREAS EXCEPT ONE: POSSESSION OF THE DOG, “RODDY.” FOLLOWING A HEARING IN WHICH THE HUSBAND ASSERTED HIS CLAIM TO THE DOG AS A “PREMARITAL ASSET,” THE TRIAL JUDGE GRANTED POSSESSION OF RODDY TO MR. BENNETT. HOWEVER, SYMPATHETIC TO THE WIFE, THE COURT ALSO GRANTED VISITATION RIGHTS TO MS. BENNETT EVERY OTHER WEEKEND AND EVERY OTHER CHRISTMAS. BOTH PARTIES FILED A SERIES OF MOTIONS CONTESTING THE COURT’S DECISION.
DESANCTIS AND PRITCHARD, NO. 2990 EA 2001, 2002 PENNSYLVANIA SUP. CT., JULY 5, 2002. PARTIES HAD A SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT INCLUDING SHARED POSSESSION OF THE FAMILY PET. HUSBAND ASSUMED MORE THAN HIS SHARE OF THE MARITAL DEBT, IN EXCHANGE FOR THIS SHARED POSSESSION OF THE FAMILY PET. LATER, WIFE REFUSES TO COMPLY WITH THE AGREEMENT, HUSBAND PETITIONS THE COURT TO ENFORCE THE AGREEMENT. COURT. THE TRIAL COURT AND ALL HIGHER COURTS REFUSED TO RECOGNIZE THAT PARTIES CAN CREATE A SHARED PROPERTY INTEREST IN A PET; DESCRIBING HUSBAND’S COMPLAINT AS “SEEKING AN ARRANGEMENT ANALOGOUS, IN LAW, TO A VISITATION SCHEDULE FOR A TABLE OR A LAMP.”
RAYMOND V. LACHMAN, NEW YORK PLAINTIFF AND DEFENDANT HAD BEEN ROOMMATES AND PLAINTIFF’S CAT HAD LIVED WITH THEM. THE TWO SEPARATED AND DEFENDANT FELT THE CAT BELONGED WITH HIM. PLAINTIFF SOUGHT RELIEF TO OBTAIN PERMANENT CUSTODY OF HIS “PROPERTY”.
AKERS V. SELLERS. 114 IND.APP.660, 54 N.E.2D 779 CONTAINS MANY OF THE PROBLEMS IN PLACING A DOG. THE “TRUE VALUE” OF THE DOG TO THE PARTIES WAS NOT USED, BUT INSTEAD WAS SET ARBITRARILY AT $25. THE COURT RAISED THE QUESTION OF THE PROPRIETY OF USING COURT RESOURCES TO DETERMINE THE ISSUE OF THE DOG'S RESIDENCE, BUT CONCLUDED THAT BECAUSE DOGS GIVE GREAT COMFORT BY THEIR COMPANIONSHIP, THE COURT WOULD ADDRESS THE PROBLEM “WITHOUT ANY FEELING OF INJURED DIGNITY.” WHEN THE COUPLE SEPARATED, THE DOG WAS LEFT BEHIND, SO THE WIFE JUST “NATURALLY CAME INTO CUSTODY OF THE DOG.” THE COURT CHOSE TO AVOID THE QUESTION AS TO “WHETHER THE INTERESTS AND DESIRES OF THE DOG” SHOULD GOVERN THE DECISION OR THE “BRUTAL AND UNFEELING BASIS OF LEGAL TITLE.” APPARENTLY BASED ON THE HUSBAND’S LEAVING THE DOG WITH THE WIFE, THE COURT FOUND THAT HE HAD GIVEN THE DOG TO THE WIFE AND THAT “NO REASON WAS SHOWN WHY POSSESSIONSHOULD NOT ACCOMPANY OWNERSHIP.
THE 2000 “PERKINS CASE” IS PERHAPS THE MOST INFAMOUS PET CUSTODY DISPUTE. IN THIS CASE, AN AFFLUENT SAN DIEGO COUPLE LAUNCHED AN ALL-OUT WAR OVER THE CUSTODY OF “GIGI,” A LITTLE DOG WHO REPORTEDLY TOOK UP HALF OF THE PERKINS’ THREE-DAY DIVORCE TRIAL. THROUGHOUT THE COURSE OF THE LITIGATION, MS. PERKINS ALLEGEDLY INVESTED SOME $146,000 IN THE CASE TO FINANCE, AMONG OTHER THINGS, A “CANINE BONDING” STUDY CONDUCTED BY A PROFESSIONAL ANIMAL BEHAVIORIST AND A VIDEO ABOUT THE DOG TITLED “A DAY IN THE LIFE [OF GIGI].” SEE, FIGHTING LIKE CATS AND DOGS, P. 439).
JONATHAN RANKIN, A BOSTON ATTORNEY WHO RECENTLY LEFT THE FIRM GLICKMAN TURLEY TO OPEN HIS OWN ANIMAL LAW PRACTICE, “COURTS ARE ALWAYS BEHIND SOCIETY.”
"BY STATUTE OR BY PRECEDENT, POSITIVE CHANGES WILL EVENTUALLY IMPROVE FUTURE PET CUSTODY DISPUTES. “IF CORPORATIONS CAN BE PERSONS IN THE EYES OF LAW, IF SHIPS CAN BE PERSONS IN THE EYES OF THE LAW, THEN THE LAW SHOULD BE ABLE TO FIGURE OUT SOMETHING FOR ANIMALS.”