5 Steps to Help Keep Your Dog through a Separation or Divorce | Herepup
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5 Steps to Help Keep Your Dog through a Separation or Divorce

Many owners would agree that we treat our furry friends like they’re part of the immediate family, however, as far as the law is concerned, pets are classed as personal property. While you can receive so much joy from a four-legged pooch coming into your relationship, if you decide to call it a day or divorce, it can be difficult to decide who gets custody of the dog.

Dog On The Beach

We’re a nation of animal lovers, so it’s no surprise to learn that in 2017, there were an estimated 89.7 million dogs living in the United States, so if you can’t bear to say goodbye to your pooch, here are a few ways to help keep your pet through a separation or divorce.

Plan Ahead

When we enter a relationship, it’s only natural that we go into it expecting that it will last forever, however, sadly this isn’t always the case. To know where you stand, it’s always best to talk with your partner at the start of your relationship about several key issues, such as who keeps the pet should a separation occur. There are some people who even choose to create a pet prenup which outlines how the pet will be taken care of should the relationship not work out.

Decide What’s Best for Your Dog

While courts consider pets as personal property, that’s not to say they don’t consider other factors too. If you can show the court that you have your dog’s best interests at heart, it’s more likely that they will award the dog to you. To strengthen your case, having a plan for your dog’s care while you are at work or collecting veterinary records of your dog can help show the court how dedicated you are to be the sole owner of your pooch.

Consider Who Had the Dog First

If you have entered the relationship with your partner or yourself already owning a pet, it’s only right that you stick by your guns and consider who had the dog first (no matter how hard it can be to let go!). As pets are classed as personal property, it’s likely that the judge will award the pet to its original owner.

Don’t Rely on the Courts to Negotiate Custody

Unless you have a pet prenup in place, you can’t rely on the courts to enforce visitation rights for your furry friend. The sole purpose of a divorce is to finalize the end of a relationship and divide property permanently.

Ask for Help

If you’re at your wit's end, it’s best to do more research into who gets the pet in a divorce. Knowledge is power, so the more research you do, the better chance you have of gaining sole custody of your beloved dog.

Going through a separation or divorce is hard enough as it is, so when it comes to deciding on who has custody of the dog, the whole process can be difficult and overwhelming. While it may be a straightforward decision for some couples, for others it can be a case of fighting tooth and nail, so make sure that you plan ahead, decide what’s in your dog’s best interests, as well as ask for help to help increase the chances of keeping hold of your beloved pooch.


Dr. Blanchette lives in the northeast working at emergency clinics for pets. Although Dr. Emily Blanchette has experience with many kinds of pets, she is particularly fond of cats. In her work, however, she deals with both dogs and cat patients with equal care and attention. Dr. Emily does basic fact-checking for our blog and writes articles of her own.

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