I was on edge. The trial had been 3 days. The judge had said he would decide as soon as he could.

My birthday came and went, and no decision was made.

Then, on July 29 2010, the judge came out with his decision. It was posted on line in the court system, in the small claims court of BC, and the lawyer for the other side contacted me to inform me the decision was out.

I opened the email not knowing how it would read.

I then opened the decision.

The judge did not give his decision until the last page.

At first he referred to the emotion in the court case. As he has been a family court judge mostly he compared it to the emotion that is in the court over child custody. He said it in his statement, in the most positive way that the emotion in the courtroom was similar to that of child custody.

After summarizing in his statement the positions and points that both sides took and made, (you can read the judgment if you like it is public), he went on to give his decision. I read the multi page report with anticipation. You can imagine!!

I knew I had presented myself well, yet I also knew this was a delicate issue, and there was not much in the way of precedent for the judge to go on.

In the court, a dog is property. The laws of property would apply.

A contract is a contract, whether it is in writing or verbal. The law of contacts would apply.

He was a gift; I paid no money for him. The laws of gifts would apply.

It was a balance of facts.

The decision in small claims in such cases does not come down to “reasonable doubt”

It is the “Balance of probabilities”. This is the burden of proof in civil trials. It also known as “preponderance of evidence.”   In a civil trial, one party’s case need only be more probable than the other.

When the evidence is equally balanced, victory goes to the defendant as the burden of proof is with the plaintiff, the one who initiates legal proceedings. (That being me in this case)

To win this I needed clear and convincing evidence.

So, did have it?

Well, I thought I did.

I had witnesses that had heard the women agree to give the dog to me.

I had witnesses that could say he lived with me for over a year at that point, as they had seen him on many occasions.

I had lots of pictures of him at my house. I had character witnesses.

She, the other party- i.e. the defendant- was claiming she did not just give him to me, and she had the right to take him back, at her call at any time. She was claiming we had a co ownership agreement, a verbal agreement that gave her ultimate control of the destiny of my dog.

She had witnesses that said they had such as agreement with her, regarding a dog. Yet they could not say they were aware of what the agreement was I had with her.

I was concerned, as I could not prove that I did not have such an agreement, I just knew that I did not. What person in their right mind would agree to an arrangement where, at the whim of another, your dog could be taken from you?

(Another story about rescue contracts one should be aware of- later- that is a different situation)

I was also concerned, as she had a lawyer representing her, and I was representing myself.

I had done my homework though and felt that if I was heard, that I should win.

But this was one individual, saying she had a verbal agreement with another, to give up her dog, for whatever reason, at any time.

Who is right and who is wrong, when neither has absolute proof.

I had taken the dog to her to see, after it was found. If you have read the first story you will know that my dog got out of an open gate, and ran (as whippets will) and was found the next day. I picked him up, and as this lady had been his previous owner, and had given him to me, and we walked together often, I took him to see her. I won’t get into the long details of the situation as it is private and over. I only know that I am a rational person who would not agree to such a crazy thing.

As the dog was with her, how could I now prove I did not take him back to her for her to keep, when all I was doing was being kind and allowing her to see he was OK too?

The judge in my attempt for custody until the trial could decide by the court, the ownership, ruled that he stay with her, as all the judge had was her word against mine, that I just did not give him back to her.

How could he know?

I could not see that at the time, but I do see t now. The judge, while he may have wanted to rule in my favour, was stuck and so I had to go the entire time, the 8 months it took to get the trial, without my dog.

Yes, the question is- Who is right and who is wrong, when neither has absolute proof.

In the end that is what the judged made his decision on.



I was believable. My evidence was believable.

I was rational.

She, in his opinion,  simply was not.

His decision was. The dog, my dog, should be returned to me immediately.

I was ecstatic. I went to collect him that day.

A happy reunion it was. He was away from me for 8 months.

I did not know what to expect with the reunion, would he remember me. He appeared to.

And he settled in back home in no time at all.

It is four years and more ago. Yet I still get very emotional when I think about it, and I sometimes wonder how I had the strength to fight for him, and to win.

Yet when I look at him, I know.

He has been with me ever since and is a part the inspiration for this web site.

If there is anyone out there reading this that has a question or an issue please let me know as perhaps I can be of help.

I am not a lawyer, or an expert in dogs. I can only tell you what I have learned, and perhaps give you some suggestions in directions to go.

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