The relationship between human beings and companion pets is changing. For purposes of this Comment, companion pets are the dogs and cats that people share their homes with. Today, more households have a dog or cat than children. Despite the social changes, companion pets are still classified as property. At some point in history, minors, women, and slaves were also classified as property. Through social revolutions, such as the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Women’s Rights Movement, property classification for humans was dismantled. This Comment discusses the progression of minors’ rights and protections and how companion pets have gained similar rights and protections in various areas of the law. However, despite the increase in rights, companion pets still lack the ability to have status or standing in the legal system for the protection or promotion of their interests. Minors also do not have the ability to sue or be sued. Nevertheless, a guardianship system has developed in order to protect minors’ interest until the minors reach the age of majority. Guardians have certain duties and responsibility to minors. Owners of companion pets are not considered guardians, and courts do not appoint guardians; thus, those duties and responsibilities that protect minors do not apply to companion pets. In conclusion, this Comment argues that the next logical step for increasing the rights of companion pets is to establish a guardianship system similar to the system for minors.
Schyler P. Simmons,
What Is the Next Step for Companion Pets in the Legal System? The Answer May Lie with the Historical Development of the Legal Rights for Minors,
Tex. A&M L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.law.tamu.edu/lawreview/vol1/iss1/11