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Ex-boyfriend's gift of dog can't be revoked, B.C. tribunal rules

Pets are considered personal property, and the principles of property law generally apply to pet ownership.
dog paw
Text messages submitted to the tribunal showed a man "unequivocally" said his ex could keep the dog if they broke up.

A man who gave his ex-girlfriend a dog has no right to expect it back because the law says gifts can’t be revoked, B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal says.

Patrick Gall said when he and Jillian Harding broke up in September 2022, they initially shared ownership of Huxley the dog. Harding eventually refused to allow him to see the dog, said the July 10 decision.

Gall said Huxley was his dog and asked for an order that Harding return Huxley to him permanently.

“Jill, on the other hand, says that Huxley is, and has always been, her dog,” said tribunal member Nav Shukla.

Shukla acknowledged that pets have an important place in people’s lives but said pets are considered personal property, and the principles of property law generally apply to pet ownership.

She said when pet owners separate and there is a dispute about the pet, the question is who owns the pet, rather than who should have custody of it.

Gall argued Huxley belonged to him because he paid for the dog.

However, Harding denied ever agreeing to Gall having any ownership interest in Huxley.

“Instead, she says that the parties agreed before purchasing Huxley that if they ever broke up, she would keep the dog and that Patrick gave Huxley to her as a gift,” Shukla wrote.

Text messages showed Gall “unequivocally” said Harding could keep Huxley if they broke up.

“I find these messages indicate a clear intention from both parties that Jill would be the sole owner of any dog they purchased in the future, should they break up,” Shukla said.

Affidavit evidence from a friend also indicated Gall had bought Huxley for Harding.

“Since Patrick refused to allow Jill to pay for Huxley, I find he purchased Huxley for her has a gift and he delivered that gift to her at the airport when he said, ‘here’s your dog,’” Shukla ruled.

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