After Split, Woman Wins Joint Custody of Dog

Attorney hails 'pioneering' ruling in Spain
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2021 12:44 PM CDT
Woman Sues, Wins Joint Custody of Dog
Stock image of a border collie.   (Getty/Radim Ryba)

An unmarried couple in Spain who called it quits after 20 months will remain in each other's lives because of a judge's ruling about their dog. The judge granted joint custody of Panda, reports the BBC. At some point in their relationship, the man and woman adopted Panda and shared the vet bills. But after their split, they disagreed on who would get the dog. The man was apparently the formal adoptee, and the woman filed suit. The judge declared that the "formal ownership of the animal, either as an owner or adoptee, cannot prevail” over “the affection of the petitioner," per the Washington Post. As a result, Panda will live for a month at a time with each person.

The woman's attorney used the 1987 European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals, under which her client was presented to the court as the "co-carer" rather than co-owner. “What is novel is to be able to use the convention to avoid having to define the pet as a shared thing or property and instead to focus on the animal’s welfare, the emotional bond and the shared responsibility of taking care of an animal, beyond the pet being considered a property,” says attorney Lola Garcia, who calls it a "pioneering" ruling. Essentially, the trio was presented as a family, rather than as a couple with a dog. (This type of thing has happened in the US.)

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