Lawyers and estate planning experts are warning that pets can be used as a “filter” for a range of legal problems.
The term “filter”, which refers to a device used to separate documents and information, has become a popular buzzword in the past few years and has recently gained traction with new pet owners and those who are looking to get rid of unwanted animals.
“If you don’t have the ability to separate out the positives and negatives of a pet, you are going to end up with a negative result,” said attorney and estate planner Pauline DeSalle, who also runs the popular cat-friendly website LegalizeLaw.com.
According to the American Bar Association, it is legal to keep a pet in a home if you “have a valid reason to do so”.
But the problem is that some people will use it as a form of “proof” that they own pets, she said.
For example, if you keep a dog as a pet for the sake of protection from a neighbour, the pet could become the key evidence against the neighbour.
While dogs have a reputation as being hard to control, the ABA says that they are “highly capable of being controlled”, and “even aggressive”.
“It’s important to know that pets do not have a monopoly on bad behaviour, but are not inherently evil,” Ms DeSale said.
“The truth is that many people have pets for different reasons, but most people who own pets are good people who make responsible decisions.”
If you want to be prepared for a legal battle, the advice is to: • Talk to an estate planning expert about the pros and cons of owning pets.
• Check the legalities of pet ownership for yourself.
Do you have any tips for pet owners?
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