When Couple Splits, Who Gets the Pets?

DEAR PAW’S CORNER: My boyfriend and I called it quits last month after six years together. While we lived together we adopted two beautiful dogs, “Gelly” and “Robie.” We both love the dogs but aren’t sure what to do. He wants to keep them, and so do I. Any suggestions? — Janice H., Providence, R.I.

DEAR JANICE: Pets are so much a part of our families these days that when a relationship breaks down, custody of those pets can cause as much acrimony as a struggle for custody of children. To many people, pets are their children. So settling on who gets the dogs can be a difficult process. Even if you can’t cooperate on anything else, strive to cooperate on creating a plan for both of you to spend time with the dogs. I have friends who have set up visitation rules for their pets — one person gets the pets for a week, the other person gets them for another week. Another ex-couple decided after several months of sharing that one would keep their three dogs all the time and the other would visit each weekend. In a breakup, pets can suffer quite a bit of stress. The dynamics of the household have changed, patterns of their humans’ behavior have changed, and one human isn’t around anymore. This alone can cause noticeable behavioral changes in your dogs, so pay close attention to them. Gelly or Robie may seem more active or hyperactive, or eat less and not be as active. Both you and your ex need to give them plenty of encouragement and love during this time.

Send your questions or comments to ask@pawscorner.com, or write to Paw’s Corner, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. For more pet care-related advice and information, visit www.pawscorner.com. © 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.

Leave a Reply