Saturday, 2 February 2008

What happens to pets when couples break up

Legal systems in most countries are set up to decide what happens to children and personal possessions when married couples break up. But what about the pets in the family?

I'm doing some research for an article I'd like to write about what happens to their pets when couples break up. I'd like to hear about personal experiences or the experiences of someone you know, or even someone you may have heard about. Just leave a message in the comments section, and I'll add it to my collection of information.

I'd really appreciate any information you can give me. Thank you.


Donna said...

Whis I could help but everytime someone that I know or knew got a divorce...hubbies left the house and wifey kept the's just the unspoken law...usually.
Well, that was pitiful..wasn't it!! LOL
Have fun today sweetie!

Sally said...

Dabrah: I can only voice an opinion since that hasn't happened to anyone I know. I think the person who took the most responsibility when the couple were together would/or should be the continuing caregiver if there's a dispute. Or, if one moves in an apartment after living in a house wih a yard and the animal is used to that, it would seem the one remaining in the house would be the caregiver.

Hey!! I tried and all I did was ramble. Sorry!!!! Hope you're having a good weekend. :)

dabrah said...

Donna and Sally, thanks for responding, I really appreciate it. I've just been thinking that split ups affect pets as well as children and the couple themselves. Children can understand to a certain extent what's going on, but pets don't have that ability and it must be so confusing for them when their lives change, sometimes dramatically.

Karen H. said...

Good Afternoon Dabrah,
Wow, I have never heard of this before. Really, I haven't. I don't even know if this has happened to anyone that I know of. The only thing that I can think of is if there are kids involved in the break-up, then the kids would take the animals with them. I wish I could be of more help, but I can't. I'm just voicing my opinion in it tho. We don't have animals in our little Family, and we are planning not to break-up either. Oh, we do have disagreements from time to time, but we love each other so very much and are crazy about each other. I didn't post today because our youngest daughter has been sick since yesterday afternoon. I'm fixing her some potato soup right now. Take care my friend and have a great evening. May God Bless You and Yours.

Love & Hugs,
Karen H.

Betty said...

I don't know of anyone who has ever gone through that, Dabrah. Sorry.

You tagged me recently for seven things about me, and I appreciate the tag. I'm sorry I haven't done this one yet, but I just did a six one for Joyce and recently have also done the seven one. I just can't think of anything else to post on this particular meme, but thanks for thinking about me.

Middle Ditch said...

A long time ago, when my boyfriend and I split up after four years of living together, he took the three dogs and I kept the five cats. It was a most amiable split-up.

Dawn said...

I have never been in that kind of situation.

Although, I think the one remaining in the house should be the caregiver of the animal.


Ex-Shammickite said...

Some friends of mine many years ago split up, and they gave me the vacuum cleaner. But I suppose that's not really what you want to know, is it?

Rob Hopcott said...

I suppose, for completeness, we should take into account that the pet may not always be a dog, cat or hamster ... And we could always eat them ... That is, if they were chickens.

Um, sorry ... Man talking I'm afraid ... Maybe missed the point ...

Oh well, banned from another blog :-)

Betts4 said...

Donna led me to your blog and dogs in broken up families is something I do know about.
I did dog rescue in the boston area for 4 years and saw a lot of what you are describing. Pets/dogs that are bought when a couple IS a couple and then when the divorce comes....boom. They are shuttled from home to home (like kids) or left with one of the couples and sometimes they don't have time to handle singularly what as a couple they could. THEN the dog gets sent to a shelter or a rescue group.
There is more to write about this. If you still need more info, I would be willingly send more. Sometimes the dogs are older and it is tougher to find homes for. Both my dalmatians are rescued and are sweethearts.
There are groups that doing just a single type of breed rescue and some that do any breed rescue.
Now that I babbled about this, let me know if I can help more. You may have inspired me for a blog now.

Betts4 said...

The above is a article I found on google.

It states several actual cases that have been brought to court and in which the courts decided in favor of one or the other member depending on welfare of the dog, who paid and cared for the dog, and who the dog was bonded to.

As personal experience, I have fostered three dogs in which the families were seperated/divorced and neither party had time or desire to keep their dogs.

One case was a Dalmatian named Lucky, who was not. His owners got divorced and though both were vets, neither could care for him. The wife called me and told me it was her husband's dog, but she had Lucky because hubby couldn't take him to the new place that he went to. Wife didn't want him. I agreed to foster him and find a new home. Lucky was luckier with me and Jim. We found a home after about 3 weeks and he was a very sweet guy, but very much missing his owner, the husband. The new family had 2 kids and Lucky bonded to them pretty quick. I think he liked the attention. I still get christmas cards from the new family.

Betts4 said...

There was another dalmatian we had for almost 2 months. She was the wifes dog and the wife had left the husband. She hadn't gotten into the legal stuff yet. She said she didn't want to give the dog up but was almost living out of her car and there was no way the dog could stay in the house.

About 2 months later she called me to see if she could have her dog Maggie back. She said she had a new job, new house and even a yard. I told her that we had to do a home check (like we do for all adoptions) and if she was willing to pay for the vet and food bills then it would be okay.
Jim and I went to do the home check and things seemed okay, if sparse. She told us that she got nothng from her 12 years of marriage - no furniture or such, but a small settlement. Hubby said since she left it was her fault. I didn't get into why she left.
Anyway there was a yard but no fence. That bothered me. I told her to work on the fence aspect and we would keep Maggie for a little bit longer.
She put up a small outside kennel and paid us for the bills and Maggie went home with Mom. Maggie seemed extremely happy with this. She was not sure where she was when she got to the new place, she was happy to see mom.

I know divorce, or any kind of disruption of the home can be tough on a dog. And the older the dogs, the worse it can be. We have done rescue for dogs whose owners who died, or one who left the dog on the porch while they went on vacation, one who abused the dog or even one who decided their dog didn't go with the new furniture and style in the house! A lot of times though it is just a change that doesn't allow the owners to have time for the dogs. Divorce is one of those.

I am glad when I read stories where the court decided in favor of what was best for the dogs. It is nice to know that some owners will fight for their dogs.

Betts4 said...

Our last 'divorce' dalmatian rescue was fostered at our place for several months. Jacob was a firemans dog. The fireman and his wife got divorced and as was the norm, the dog stayed with the house. I don't know the divorce details, I just know the wife got tired of the dog and didn't want the husband to have him. Sort of malicious but my interest was in the happiness of the dog. I think she hung on to him longer than she should have. He came to us pretty depressed and sort of like a couch potato. He may have been missing his male owner. We never had a way to contact him, though my hubby did call a few firehouses. Jacob was good with our two dogs and started to cheer up. He went to live with a man that had already adopted one of our dogs a year or so ago. They are now on a farm in western Massachussetts.

The article I linked in the other comment said this -
a family pet is an item of personal property, and principles concerning the classification of this property apply. Once it is determined, however, that the family pet is marital property or that the court has the authority to award the family pet to one party or the other, then the court may consider who would better care for the pet and who has the greater attachment to the pet. This is really no different from the many cases that award a particular piece of property to the party who asserts a greater sentimental value to an item of property.

That seems to sum it up nicely. email me if you have other questions.

Rochelle said...

I split up with my boyfriend of 5 years about 4 months ago. He got me a cat for my birthday 2 years ago but now i have moved out he wont let me have my cat and i am distrort. As i broke up with him i feel he is keeping her to old onto me or to ensure i come over to see the cat and therefore he gets to see me. I dont know what to do though do i have the rights to just take her or not?? i love her more than anything in the world any help guys??

dabrah said...

Rochelle, I looked on your blog but your don't have any posts, so I couldn't leave a comment there. I really don't know where you stand as far as your cat is concerned. If you live in the UK, then I'd recommend a visit to the Citizens' Advice Bureau, who might be able to advise you. If you live anywhere else, then maybe a visit to your local Vet's surgery might be helpful. People working there are probably more aware of what rights you have as far as your cat is concerned. I'm sorry I can't be of more help. I hope you get your cat back.