Breakups can be tough, and the custody of a shared dog or cat can become a central issue when a couple separates or divorces, leading to anguish, arguments, and in some cases, a courtroom. In the eyes of the law, custody of your pet is not technically what a pet-owner should be expecting when they enter a courtroom. In all 50 states, animals are considered property, and many judges will not grant custody of a pet but rather award him as property. But animals fall into a separate category than replaceable or exchangeable property like cars or homes. Dogs and cats are unique property like a piece of artwork or an heirloom that cannot be quantified or replaced with money, and they are trickier and more emotional to deal with.
The best interest of the pet is not usually considered, and possession hearings are facts sensitive. The name on a pet’s adoption papers is not necessarily the end of the inquiry. A judge might look at the relationship of the pet to the owners, such as who has been making the medical decisions, caring for it, or who has been paying the veterinarian bills.
Sometimes joint custody is the final decision. Not so long ago, the idea that pet custody would become a part of divorce cases would have been dismissed as ridiculous. But the last decade has seen animal rights activists and legislators working together to change the way animals are viewed by the court—and in the process they are redefining the legal boundaries between people and their property.
As bad as we feel, dogs are rarely terribly upset because of a person disappearing from its life. Instead, signs of stress such as pacing, restlessness and panting will usually appear because of moving into a new home or losing a canine brother or sister to the estranged spouse. To reduce your dog’s anxiety level and your own, try a holistic approach toward lessening the stress. Take your dog for a stroll on a retractable leash for maximum freedom more often, making sure to provide time for sniffing and play.
Positive reward-based training classes are another option for redoing your and your dog’s life after a separation or divorce. Classes are offered almost everywhere in the country and run the gamut from basic obedience to doggie sports. To reward your pet, you can use a kibble of Viand which works just as well as an all-natural training treat like of those offered on our site.
Canine custody disputes take an emotional toll on all family members. But, by working out a compromise and making sure you are clearly listed as an owner on important records before a breakup occurs, you can avoid a lot of heartache in the future.