On March 10, 2009, the Appellate Division issued a precedential (reported) decision on the issue of the possession of a dog in the case of Houseman v. Dare. To see the full text of the case, click here.
The parties were together for 13 years. In 1999 they purchased a house together. In 2000, they got engaged (but never married). In 2003, they purchased a pedigree dog for $1,500. Both parties were listed as the owners on the papers filed with the American Kennel Club.
In May 2006 Dare decided to end his relationship with Houseman. At that time, he wanted to stay in the house and purchase her interest in the property for $45,000 which was what he represented half of the equity to be. In June 2006, she signed a deed transferring her interest in the house to him. When she vacated the residence in July 2006, Houseman took the dog and its paraphernalia with her.
There seems to be little dispute that there was an oral agreement that Houseman was going to take the dog with her as her own when the parties separated. However, thereafter, she allowed Dare to visit with the dog. On one occasion in 2007 after watching the dog while Houseman was on vacation, he refused to give the dog back and the lawsuit ensued wherein she sought specific performance of their agreement that she keep the dog.