Daniel commenced an action to recover possession of Deva — a two year old Shih Tzu – from his aunt. During the summer of 2012, Daniel purchased Deva, who was three months old at the time, for his granddaughter. Daniel took Deva to his mother’s home where he was living. He took Deva to the vet for her vaccinations and asked his son to walk her three times a day for him. After a few weeks, the son started working and was no longer able to walk Deva for Daniel. Also around this same time, Daniel moved out of his mother’s home and into his uncle’s home, leaving Deva behind with his mother because his uncle already had a dog.
Shortly after Daniel moved out of his mother’s home, the mother asked her sister (Daniel’s aunt) if she would give Deva a bath and the aunt agreed. That same day, Daniel’s mother dropped Deva off at the aunt’s home and she never returned to pick her up. All of the members of the aunt’s household closely bonded with Deva and she is closely bonded with them.
In March, 2014, both Daniel and his mother asked the aunt to return Deva to Daniel because he wanted to breed her and that he would return her after she had puppies. The aunt refused. The families no longer speak to each other as a result of the dispute.
The Court applied a the “best interest for all concerned” standard, which it deemed to be the appropriate analysis when determining competing claims of ownership of a pet. The Court determined that removing Deva from the home where she has grown and thrived for approximately two years would likely cause her a great deal of distress, and the aunt was awarded Deva.
The decision is found at: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2014/2014_51068.htm