Cute dog with a yellow ball

Rocco Junior: a dog at the centre of a legal battle

Everyone loves dogs; they bring us so much joy. Many of us infantilize them and treat them as if they were our children. Wealthy people have even dispersed entire fortunes to them: read about the Leona Helmsley affair to find out about a dog who was worth millions. We lavish praise and gifts upon them. There are custody battles fought over dogs, just as there are court battles fought over children. 

Aliesha Verma, a resident of Ontario, Canada, is currently embroiled in a legal battle over her late boyfriend’s dog, Rocco Junior. Rocco was gifted to Verma by Leonard Carvalho,  her late boyfriend, but now Carvalho’s sister is fighting for “custody” of the dog. Despite the fact that the dog has lived with Verma since he was just a puppy, Carvalho’s sister is disputing Verma’s legal ownership of the animal. In a legal motion filed against Verma, Carvalho’s sister claims that Verma never had legal ownership of the dog. 

There is a hearing to determine the fate of the dog in August. The case may set legal precedent for animal ownership. Leonard Carvalho’s Last Will doesn’t specifically state any clauses as to who owns the beloved pet. It will be interesting to see how this case plays out throughout the court system. This whole debacle is another reason to have your Will complete. In fact, offers a National Pet Will, which you can read about here.

As one legal expert put it: “Unless your pets are specifically addressed within your estate planning, “then, unfortunately, they will be treated just like any other personal property, like a car or jewelry.” 

You can read more about this ongoing legal battle, here.