Poem Gifted With Dog Spells Appellate Defeat
(CN) - A woman hoping to take a dog from her ex-boyfriend found her undoing in poem she wrote that portrays the dog as a gift to him, an Illinois appeals court ruled.
Jennifer Koerner adopted a dog named The Stig from the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago in November 2010.
On or around Christmas Day 2010, she wrote a poem which stated that the dog was a gift to her then-live-in boyfriend, Kent Nielsen. A copy of the poem is not in the appellate record.
The couple's relationship ended in February 2012, when Nielsen left the home and took The Stig with him. Koerner repeatedly asked Nielsen to bring the dog back because she and her other dog, Jessie, missed The Stig.
Nielsen continually responded that The Stig belonged to him and that he would bring the dog to visit if Koerner would acknowledge in writing that he was the dog's owner.
Instead, Koerner sued Nielsen for ownership of The Stig, arguing that the dog's registration and microchip registration were in her name. She also asserted that she paid for most of The Stig's care.
Nielsen argued that he was The Stig's owner because Koerner gave the dog to him and memorialized the gift with the poem.
The Cook County Circuit Court agreed, and the appellate court's Chicago-based First Division last week that The Stig belonged to Nielsen.
"There is no evidence in the record that the poem included language indicating that the gift was in any way conditional, such as on a continuation of the romantic relationship. Nor does the record indicate that Koerner and Nielsen were engaged at any point in time, and thus, there is no presumption that The Stig was a gift in contemplation of marriage," Justice Joy Cunningham wrote for a three-member panel.
Koerner has not right to revoke the gift when the relationship ended, according to the ruling.
"Koerner's statements 13 months after her demonstration of unconditional donative intent do not impact the validity of the donative intent she acknowledged that she expressed in the poem at the time she made the gift," Cunningham wrote.