If the questions justices on Maine’s highest court asked Tuesday are any indication of how they might rule, they are not likely to reverse a lower court’s decision on who owns Honey or with whom the dog should be able to spend time.
Honey, a 4-year-old female lab/shepherd mix, is at the center of a dispute between Jessica Sardina, 25, of Bangor and her ex-boyfriend, Kelvin Liriano, 25, of Old Town.
She’s appealed a ruling issued last year by Bangor District Court Judge Patrick Larson to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Larson found that the dog’s sole owner is Liriano because his is the only signature on the adoption papers even though Sardina cared for the dog when the couple lived together in Bangor for about three years.
“The theme of this case is that companion animals are different from ordinary chattel,” Sardina’s attorney, Eugene Sullivan of Bangor, argued at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta.
This is the first time Maine’s high court has considered the issue.
Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley pointed out that the justices heard arguments Tuesday in separate appeals that involved a manslaughter conviction in a decades-old infant manslaughter case and a serious child abuse case.
“We understand why your heartstrings have brought you here, but is this really what we want judges in this state to spend their time on?” she asked.