An adorable miniature dachshund has become the subject of a contentious custody debate in an ongoing divorce. Pet custody issues are becoming more and more common as families are no longer regarding them as property to be split but rather as a treasured member of the household. Pet custody decisions are often included when couples divide their assets, but it is unusual to have this matter proceed all the way to trial, particularly in the absence of other contested issues.
Yet that is exactly what is happening in the case of the miniature dachshund, Joey, who is the primary issue in an upcoming trial for a divorcing couple. The dog was purchased by one spouse for the other at the start of the relationship but now each is claiming the pet as their own amidst the divorce.
On one hand, the spouse who purchased the pet and lived with and cared for it may have a legitimate monetary claim. On the other hand, the spouse who was given the pet as a gift and who primarily cared for it might have an equally compelling case.
The judge who is hearing the arguments in the case told reporters that the fate of the pet seems equally if not more important than other issues he hears regularly, such as who keeps the car, the vacation home, or other possessions. A dog owner himself, the judge admits to some bias on the issue, but says that pet custody should be taken seriously.
What do you think – should pet custody be an issue for the courts to decide? Or is it a private matter that couples should settle on their own time?
Source: New York Post, “Landmark custody battle over dog in divorce,” Julia Marsh, Dec. 4, 2013.