Who Keeps The Pets After A Breakup?
Today’s question comes to us from Maria.
She and her boyfriend had a breakup and he has taken her dog and refuses to return it.
At first, the boyfriend stated that they would co-parent the dog, but has later changed his mind and refused to let her see the dog, so Maria, therefore, took the dog back and the boyfriend now accuses her of stealing the dog.
Unfortunately, for Maria and her boyfriend, because they’re not a married couple, this does not fall into family law, where at times, we do share custody of a family pet. It is more of a tort action that needs to be handled in the civil courts.
When we look at a dog, all states, consider dogs to be property, not people, and, therefore, they’re treated differently. And the standard test for the ownership of the dog has to do with, first of all, proof of purchase. Do you have the records of purchasing the dog, do you have vet records, that you take the dog to the vet, that most people know that you own this dog, and you are responsible for the dog’s vet appointments, for feeding the dog, for housing the dog.
If the boyfriend comes back and calls the police, most of the time, the police are not going to get involved in something like this. You call the cops and let them know that this is stolen property, but, therefore, because it’s a civil matter and you both had time with the dog and discussed sharing the dog, you need to most likely take this to a civil court, where you can hash it out there in front of a judge there.
So remember, in the event of a simple breakup, where neither party is married, but they have shared a dog, the person who bought the dog, the person who can prove that the dog is their property, is the one who usually gets to keep that possession or the dog. I hope that this has answered your question, Maria.
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