Emotions are running high when a couple decides to walk away from the relationship. The “who keeps what” game starts up and an already stressful situation tends to get fired up even more. We all know that children tend to get caught in the middle but what about the family pet? There are a few things to consider to ensure your fur babies go to the right home suited for them and some are not as easy as you think.
Fido is a Couch
Sadly this is true. In the eyes of the law in all states but Illinois and Alaska, your dog and your cat are no different than the couch you sit on.
In a custody battle (should this decision need to be made in court), a judge may not consider the well-being of your pet. In fact, there have been cases where judges have decided simply by seeing who the dog first ran to or by who’s name was on the credit card at time of “purchase”. Animal activists are working on changing the law but until that happens, try settling your custody dispute out of court if you can help it.
Speaking of a custody battle, another option some pet owners opt for is sharing custody when the pet is so loved by all. Saying goodbye isn’t easy and for some, it’s simply not an option. A good solution might be treating it as you would a child, having the pet on weekends or for a full week, whatever your schedule allows.
Keep in mind, this does require you share all responsibilities such as taking your pals to the vet, going on walks, and this comes with a cost as well. You’ll be sharing financial responsibilities such as good food, treats, dog supplies, vet bills, grooming and even dog-walking. These add up fast which adds a layer of stress to an already stressful situation so be prepared with what you can or cannot afford.
In the event where sharing custody is not an option, consider who will be the one moving out when making your decision for your pup’s new home. A human leaving the home can be quite a challenge for your pet as it is, much less moving him to a new location. Another problem to consider is breed and size restrictions in a new place. A home with an HOA or renting under a landlord (whether its a house, an apartment or a condo) can prove to be difficult if your pup doesn’t meet the requirements. Some places don’t even allow for a fence so be sure to consider that as well.
Another point to consider is who works the most or at the least, who has less flexibility in their schedule.
It is important that your dog gets plenty of exercise (and this does not include a romp in the yard) so it makes no sense to send Fido off with someone who can’t spare the time. If both of you have hectic schedules, consider who is willing to pay for dog-walking and go from there.
“Mommy, I want a puppy!”
If your kiddos grew up with your pup, then removing him from the house might prove to be traumatic for the little ones. It might be better for all to let the pup stay with the family. Keep in mind, a house with one parent, kids and a dog can make it hard for pets to get the attention they need. When a dog is under-exercised or feeling slighted, much less dealing with the stress of a pet parent leaving the home, the pup is primed to react in a negative way. This could make it difficult if not dangerous to keep the dog in the busy house. It might end up that the quiet, calm house might be the best for all involved in the end.
Lastly, If you have only one pup then this situation isn’t one you need to worry about. However in a house with multiple pets, the issues can go one way or another. If your pets don’t get along, then the decision boils down to who takes what pet as it is probably best to split them up.
In some cases, however, you’ll find pets to be inseparable. Splitting them up is the worst thing you can do in an already stressful situation for them. Consider their well-being in the long run when deciding which pets go with which owner. Having their companion can make this transition much smoother for them and for their humans, too.
Splitting is tough for everyone.
Emotions run rampant and all the details make this already stressful situation all the more stressful.
¹ Try to stay calm and not use your pets (or your kids) as a way to hurt the other person.
² Get help from friends or relatives if you feel like you cannot make a logical decision without emotions taking control. No one will blame you or judge you. This is hard and your loved ones are there to help.
I’d love to hear your thoughts but please keep them kind. We’re all doing the best we can, aren’t we?