Leona Helmsley, the late real estate billionaire and hotelier, made news (again) in 2007, when she left her dog, a Maltese named Trouble, a $12 million trust fund. Bequests and estate arrangements such as hers are no longer newsworthy and have become more and more commonplace. Pets have evolved from being characterized as property to being named as beneficiaries and considered family members and companions. In her new book, Pet Law and Custody, author and animal law pioneer Barbara J. Gislason examines the developing jurisprudence surrounding how we treat our pets and how the law treats our furry, and maybe not so furry, companions.
At the outset, the author notes the difficulties courts have faced when confronted with questions concerning pets and how they should be classified and treated under the law. To alleviate some of the confusion, she sets forth selected criteria for identifying a companion animal and some characteristics that might indicate that the pet is not a companion animal. From this introduction, the author launches into the heart of her book: an analysis of specific areas of law as they relate to pet law and pet custody issues. Subject areas include: family law and replevin actions; alternative dispute resolution; estate planning, wills, and trusts; contract law and the Uniform Commercial Code; property law; and tort law. She also looks into how the law treats cases involving animal cruelty and the certain amendments to the U.S. Constitution impact such laws. In addition, Gislason presents the nuts and bolts of a dangerous dog proceeding and provides some points to consider when owning an at-risk animal. Other chapters address the legal issues surrounding science and technology, such as genetic testing, cloning, and animal patents.
Filled with summaries of applicable case law and practical advice, Pet Law and Custody is a useful book for lawyers and all those interested in animals to aid in the understanding of this developing and emerging area of law.