Pets and the Law

Today we're highlighting resources that may help shed some light on the law surrounding pets in our homes, cities, and relationships. So much is happening right now to cause concern and anxiety, showing some legal information sources about pets allows us to indulge in a bit of pet therapy and share pics of our furry family members. Read on to learn about resources you can use when answering questions from patrons, and to meet our little pack of beasties! 

Pets & Separation: Who gets to keep the dog?

Black and white border collie husky hugging her human
This is Shadow Moon hugging her mom. She is a very affectionate dog.


This may be a question you have gotten in the past or perhaps have wondered about yourself. In the event of a change of family circumstances, where does the beloved family pet fit in?

Breder Law’s Who Gets the Dog or Cat Upon Break-Up? (April 2020) provides a current, detailed explanation of how the legal system handles these situations and offers news of positive change on the horizon:

“… the law is ahead in British Columbia than elsewhere in the country. Cases such as Kaczor v. Palfrey and Sagoo v. Murray all establish that the best interest of the animal should be considered too, and that it is not only about deciding the legal entitlement to the pet. Judges are also starting to use language such as “mother” to describe what has been traditionally known as a pet “owner” or guardian.”

Despite these signs of change to come, legally pets are still seen as personal property and not family members. You can also look to Dealing with Pets after Separation (2015) from JP Boyd on Family Law – The Blog:

“Despite the folks who’d very much like to apply for custody of or access to their pets after separation, the law on custody and access, and guardianship and parenting arrangements, only applies to human children. In the eyes of the law, pets are personal property”

Pets & Bylaws: Municipal and City

Cat looking anxiously into cameraCat stretched out on her back reaching out with her right paw
Leia is clearly more urgent about this topic than her sister Morgana, who is much more laissez-faire. Then, to be fair, leading the resistance is a serious job; urgency is crucial.


Getting a cat or dog? Your city or municipality may have some bylaws about this! Fortunately, these laws are relatively easy to track down.

Bylaws specific to your city or region can generally be found online through the city or region’s website. Each city organizes its bylaws page a bit differently so they may be organized in a list or keyword searchable.

For example:

Legislative authority

The information below is summarized from the Government of British Columbia’s Local Governments page – sources are noted.


  • Municipalities are granted powers to regulate, prohibit, or impose requirements in relation to people, property, and activities. (From Local Government Powers & Services)

Regional Districts

Relevant Legislation

Pets and Tenancy: What are the rules for renters and landlords?

Black lab standing in an open doorway leading to a back garden
This is Georgie, surveilling and protecting the family home.


Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre
A great source on all things tenancy, this organization focuses on the legal protection of residential tenants across BC by providing information, education, and support on residential tenancy matters. The following are just a few answers to common questions

Landlords can restrict pets

  • According to section 18 of the Residential Tenancy Act, landlords can restrict pets entirely, or set limits on the number, size, or type of pets a tenant can have in their rental unit.

Pet Damage / Deposit

  • If pets are allowed, landlords can require a pet damage deposit.  The deposit can be up to half the monthly rent, maximum, regardless of the number of pets you have.

Guide dogs

Check out TRAC’s page on Pets for more information:

Pets & Strata: What about rules for Strata residents?

Two big black and white cats lounging on patio furniture
Here are Brett and Jemaine loafing about, enjoying their condo’s patio.


The information below is summarized from the Government of British Columbia’s page on Strata Bylaws and Rules.
Strata corporations can restrict owners, tenants, and other occupants from keeping pets or certain kinds of pets through the bylaws of the strata corporation.


  • Many strata corporations use the Standard Bylaws found in the Strata Property Act: Schedule of Standard Bylaws 3(4).
  • Strata corporations can amend or repeal the Standard Bylaw Section 3(4) at any time by passing their own bylaw that deals with pets and filing the bylaw in the Land Title Office.
  • Pet bylaws banning or limiting the number or type of pets do not apply to certified guide or service dogs.

Learn more about amending bylaws and rules on the Ministry’s website.

"Grandfathering” Pets

  • If a strata corporation creates a new pet bylaw (that restricts having a pet, for example), pets that are living in a strata lot at the time that the bylaw is passed may continue to live in that strata lot. 

If you have questions about emotional support animals and strata housing, look to the Breder Law blog – a great resource for information about animals and the law in BC. Check out Legal Rights When Living in a Condominium with Your Emotional Support Animal (May 2020).

Other Strata Resources

We hope you found this resource overview helpful! Georgie, Jemaine, Brett, Morgana, Leia and Shadow Moon all thank you for your interest in this topic! Curious about the knife wielding doodle on the landing page? That's Oscar helping his mom put away the dishes.