A B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal decision says a woman in Greater Victoria must return a cat to her ex after they broke up in a case that serves as a warning to any couple who decides to get a pet during their relationship.
The Nov. 10 decision details a fight over who should have custody of Tobi the cat.
A man took his ex to the CRT because, despite sharing Tobi after the couple had broken up, the woman suddenly wouldn’t return the cat after a visit.
The man wanted the CRT to order the return of Tobi and was also claiming $2,000. The woman responded that she was the rightful owner of Tobi on the basis of an “agreement between the two parties.”
“The respondent acknowledges that when the parties broke up in October 2022, Tobi stayed with the applicant (the man),” said the ruling. “The applicant would then drop off and pick up Tobi from ‘visits’ with the respondent. This pattern continued without incident until January 2023.
“On January 11, 2023, the applicant texted the respondent to say he was having ‘second thoughts’ about dropping Tobi off for a visit with the respondent as he was concerned the respondent would not return the cat. The respondent replied to reassure the applicant, writing ‘why? i said that i would’ and ‘and i’d give him back.’ The text messages, reproduced as written, make it clear the respondent promised to return Tobi to the applicant.”
But after that visit, the woman never returned Tobi to the man, who then took the case to the CRT.
According to the CRT decision, Tobi was purchased for $350 in 2021. The CRT ruled that the man was the actual owner. One point the ruling makes is that pets are considered “personal property” and couples need to be clear when they get a pet about if they both paid for it.
“The parties agree the applicant paid the original $350 cost to adopt Tobi from a third party on November 25, 2021,” said the ruling. “The respondent says the applicant paid because ‘one of us had to make the original payment.’ The respondent further says she ‘made payments’ to the applicant in respect of Tobi over the course of their relationship but does not say she paid the applicant any share of Tobi’s purchase cost or provide any evidence that she did so. The respondent also does not explain why each party could not have paid half of the upfront cost. So, I find the applicant solely paid for the cost Tobi’s adoption and owns Tobi, subject to any agreement between the parties to the contrary.”
The CRT ruling said that since Tobi was the man’s property, then the woman should have returned the cat, although it dismissed the man’s claim of $2,000, having not proven the market value of Tobi.