The ugly custody dispute between the actors Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart over their dog Bear is shining a light on a grey area of law – the question of dog custody.
The guidelines and legal precedents in resolving dog custody disputes are vague at best. Judges are often placed in difficult situation of having to award custody of family dogs to one or the other party without clear justification.
For those dealing with the issue here are some points to consider:
- Shared custody doesn’t work for dogs. Dogs need stability. The system of ‘one week with me, one week with you’ may be a suitable approach for child custody but it is detrimental for a dog.
- In deciding who should be awarded the custody of the pet, the judge should use the same guidelines as in cases of child custody – what is in the best interest of the pet?
- The decision should be based on the party’s ability to provide suitable accommodation, time, nutrition, medical care, etc.
- Consideration also should be given to which member of the family has been the primary care-giver for the dog and therefore developed closer connection with the dog.
I hope that these important considerations will make the decision process easier for those involved in dog custody disputes.