💥The Unknown Law That Is A Pet Parent's Worst Nightmare 🐾💔

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Fighting for Family: The Legal Battle for Pet Custody

Imagine the pet you cherish, the one who brightens your days and fills your heart with joy—the loyal companion who eagerly waits for your return, offering unconditional love and comfort. Now, picture a day when you’re faced with a heart-wrenching reality—a choice to surrender your beloved pet to a stranger or face the consequences. If you believe animals are sentient beings, then this is a story you’ll want to hear.

The Backstory:

In a recent episode of the Animal Intuitive® Channel, Sophia shared her journey with her beloved dog, Kano. What began as a simple act of kindness turned into a legal battle for custody. Sofia’s coworker asked her to temporarily care for her mother’s dog, Kano, who wasn’t receiving proper care due to her mother’s illness. Little did Sofia know this act of kindness would spiral into a complex legal battle.

I later learned my co-worker's mother, Kano’s primary caretaker and owner, was sadly diagnosed with health issues and temporarily placed in a care facility. Her adult son lived with her, but was incarcerated once again for a DUI and related charges. As a result, Kano was abandoned in the home with no heat in the frigid winter. Left in his crate for days at a time, he was denied regular access to food, water, toys, and a place to relieve himself. My coworker discovered the other dog in the home deceased and decaying amongst the house debris.

Kano’s Arrives In Horrible Condition 

Kano arrived at Sofia’s home on February 18th. She was not and had not been prepared for the condition in which Kano arrived. He was dirty and horribly emaciated. Kano was so dehydrated that his coat was plagued with dandruff, his lips were cracked and bleeding, and his eyes were bloodshot and cloudy. When she took Kano to the vet, he was diagnosed with a double ear infection, interdigital dermatitis, conjunctivitis, separation anxiety, and atopic dermatitis. Over the next month, she learned from her coworker additional details about Kano’s previous living conditions. Under her care, Kano thrived.

The Legal Landscape:

Attorney Kristina Bergsten, The Animal Law Firm, Sofia’s appeal attorney, joined Sophia to discuss the legal aspects of pet custody battles. In most states, pets are considered “property,” their best interests are often overlooked in custody disputes. Judges may lack awareness of the emotional bond between pets and their owners, leading to unfair outcomes.

"He absolutely loved being able to free-roam my home, choosing to snooze on the couch until I returned from work. Incredibly, what Kano wanted most was my attention and affection. He followed me everywhere...even into the bathroom. Witnessing his transformation was such a powerful, moving experience. As you can see from the pictures, Kano was healthy, and more importantly, happy."

A Grueling Legal Battle for Custody of Kano

On March 26th, 2023, Spohia and her boyfriend met at a local dog park with her co-worker and her husband, and her coworker’s mother, Kano’s primary caretaker and owner. Kano’s owner told her and her boyfriend that they could keep Kano: “I can see how happy he is, and how much he loves you and you love him. Keep the dog.” To say they were thrilled would be an understatement. They left the dog park overjoyed and relieved. They were finally a family. Or so they thought.

About one month later, she was informed that Kano’s former owner’s son had been released from jail and was demanding “his dog” be returned. A grueling legal battle for custody of Kano followed.

According to the Current Laws, Pets Are No Different Than a TV or Toaster

Sofia recounted her experience in court, where she fought tirelessly to keep Kano. Despite providing evidence of Kano’s neglect prior to her care, the legal system’s focus on the law deeming animals to be “property” led to an unfavorable ruling. The trial stretched over several months, taking an emotional toll on Sophia and impacting her personal and professional life

Sofia recounts during several, nonconsecutive days of virtual trial:    
  • photographic evidence was submitted regarding the terrible condition Kano came to me in, reflecting the abandonment, neglect, and abuse he suffered 

  • there was no evidence provided that Kano was registered or licensed to this man, the son of Kano’s former primary caretaker and owner

  • the plaintiffs provided contradictory testimony regarding who was actually Kano’s original “owner” 

  • the plaintiffs admitted that my co-worker’s mother, Kano’s primary caretaker and owner, paid the majority of Kano’s purchase price & Kano resided in her home, where she was his caregiver

  • my coworker’s mother, Kano’s primary caretaker and owner, did not testify

  • my coworker’s brother (and the son of Kano’s primary caretaker and owner) did not attend trial until the last day of testimony, when he submitted a supposed copy of a Venmo receipt for a deposit towards the purchase of Kano

  • Despite all of this and more, on Friday, September 16, 2022, the Gloucester Township civil court of New Jersey ruled that Kano should be returned to this man’s custody.  The two deciding factors were: 

1.) there was no physical “receipt” for Kano’s owner relinquishing her ownership, and 

2.) Kano, like all pets, is considered PROPERTY.  

According to the current laws, pets are no different than a TV or toaster

The Importance of Advocacy

Ms. Bergsten emphasizes the need for specialized legal representation in animal law cases. As Sofia’s appeal attorney, she highlighted missed opportunities in the original court proceedings, which she was not a part of, and procedural errors that could have influenced the outcome. Sofia was given a referral to a non-specialist attorney for the original court case by a well-meaning friend, unaware that there are attorneys specializing in animal law.

"I think probably the biggest takeaway from this case is you know two things: one, that you've got to be really careful about who you're trusting with, and two, you've also got to be really careful about who you're with. Investigating your legislators is very doable, and it's difficult, but it's very doable, and you should do it because you might be surprised. So, it's important to really look at what your legislators vote for."

Ms. Bergsten mentions there are resrouces in some states for individuals seeking information about who is an animal-friendly legislator versus who is not. For example, in Colorado there is the Colorado Voters for Animals.

What Is Kano’s Law?

Because of what Sofia experienced she realized that she had an opportunity to turn an heartwrenching ordeal into a catalyst for change, ultimately creating something transformational for companion animals and loving pet parents. And that is how Kano’s Law came to be. 

“Kano’s Law seeks to obtain, “Legal protection and consideration for the best interests of all companion animals, or pets, by ending their legal status as property. Current laws in The United States deem companion animals equitable to property.” www.petsarefamilynotproperty.com

Legislation Moving Forward

As advocates for animal welfare, it’s essential to continue fighting for legislative changes that prioritize the well-being of pets in custody disputes.

Sofia is now also working on a more comprehensive Animal Bill Of Rights:

"I have heard from people from, veterinarian malpractice all the way to kidnapping to rescues and those in the animal shelter world. I want to make sure that I hear from everyone because I want to touch on every problem. I'm really wanting something that says we're doing the job for them, but I want something that's so comprehensive, it requires a signature and let's be done with the thing already. So, I want to touch on absolutely everything, do their job for them if I have to, and get it signed and put into place."

Conclusion

Sofia and Kano’s experience is a poignant reminder of the legal hurdles pet owners face in custody battles. Through advocacy and education, we can work towards creating a more compassionate legal system that recognizes the emotional bond between pets and their families.

While the journey towards better animal welfare laws and protections may be challenging, by staying informed, getting involved in advocacy efforts, and holding lawmakers accountable, we can work towards a future where animals are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Let’s push for change and make our voices heard for the voiceless.

How You Can Help

Sign Kano’s Law Change.org petition: Click Here  
Sophia’s Email for the Animal Bill of Rights: Kanoslaw.petsrfamily@gmail.com 

Intrigued by animal communication? Learn how to communicate with animals!

My website: www.Intuitivetouchanimalcare.com, offers everything from a free meditation and 90 minute animal communication class to in-depth training and animal communicator certification through my Animal Intuitive Academy.

Additionally, my YouTube channel features tutorials on animal communication, acupressure, and massage and interviews with animal care and advocacy experts HERE

You can also sign up for live or private classes. If you want to start your training right now, my full-length introductory course, Telepathic Animal Communication, Acupressure, and Mindfulness For You and Your Pet! is available for download by clicking here. This class can also be used to qualify as the first level needed to earn Animal Communicator Certification through Animal Intuitive® Academy. 

 

I encourage you to get that free class from Animal Intuitive® Academy. Also, grab the free tools I have on my YouTube Channel and podcast, such as acupressure, massage, and energy work, to help your pet relx.

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