How To Handle Pet Custody After Breakups

After the big relationship mess unfolds and the aftermath has settled, you now have a new challenge to face. Who gets to keep the dog/cat/turtle/fish/hamster or bearded dragon? Now I was lucky, in my case, I brought my dogs into the relationship with me, and they stayed with me after it ended. However, the situation becomes a lot more blurry when you either adopted the dog together or both want the pet after the breakup.


Unfortunately, we are all too familiar with the story of how the big city girl falls in love and ultimately gets her heartbroken. Still, what we have yet to hear is the story of how things are divided up afterwards and if the division works in each party's favor. But most importantly, to ensure that the dog, the most important factor of this issue, goes to the person who is most willing and able to care for it.


Ways to approach it

There are different approaches to this scenario, you could explore it from the point of joint custody where you share the dog between your separate residences. Chihuahuas are particularly good dogs for moving in between two locations with minimal

fuss and very little impact on the dog's life or happiness from the constant moving.


A second option is to give the other person sole ownership of the dog. Now, this could be for various reasons.

You may be moving into an apartment that is not dog-friendly or suitable for pets.
You may be beginning a new position at work and therefore not be around at home as much.
You may be committing to a complete lifestyle change and therefore no longer be able to facilitate looking after a pet.

Another factor that could influence your decision to give the other person sole rights to your pet would be that your finances may become more constrained now that you are living on your own and therefore, you may be unable to meet the financial demands of looking after a pet. These will include vaccinations, dog food, emergency vet care and medicine for the foreseeable future.


Therefore, choosing to give up your dog, for now, is a rather selfless act. It’s not just to ensure that the dog is well looked after, but so you can also start this new chapter with a clear head.


A further option for you is that one of you could take full ownership but grant the ex full visitation rights with the animal, this is great if you are unable to keep the dog or cat with you but still want to see them and be a part of their life.

The Discussion

When the break up occurs and you now have to begin planning who moves where, it is important to try and minimize the stress that your dog, cat, bird or lizard is exposed to. Remember losing a ‘parent’ and then being moved to a new home is a lot of stimulation for the animal. In order to try and minimize the stress, see if one of you is going to stay within the home and then perhaps let that person keep the animal.


If one person brought the dog into the relationship then maybe consider allowing them to keep the animal, as they may have a far stronger bond than you do. The next questions to consider are:


Who is able to look after the animal?
Who has the schedule which allows for adequate time to be spent with them and;
Who takes care of the animal at the moment?

For example, who takes the dog for walks in the mornings, who puts out food for the animals, and who wants to be the one to look after the dog at three in the morning when they are throwing up multicolored vomit on the carpet - this is a true story people. After all, having a pet is a huge responsibility and this should not be used as an opportunity to spite your ex.


The next consideration is if you have children and they are extremely attached to the pet then maybe have the pet stay with whichever parent is going to have the children the majority of the time. If you have multiple pets, that are very attached to each other, then taking them to different homes while more convenient for you, may have serious negative consequences for the animals.


In summary, when you are next facing the news of a break up remember that it is possible for you to keep your head up high and keep your beautiful pooch or kitten. However, the most important person in this situation is, of course, the animal.


The pet in your life should be one of the priorities when you come to the table to discuss the way going forward with your ex and ensure that your pet has the best possible life going forward.


Bio: Sarah writes for Crazy Pet Guy. She has an innate love for pets and hopes that everyone can appreciate, take care of them, and give them all the love they deserve.


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What Guys Said 15

  • whoever the pet is closest too... there is generally one master
    Whoever the pet listens to and wants to be around the most is the one that keeps the pet

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  • I think it's different when you BOTH buy the dog, or pet. But if the person had the pet before the relationship that's their pet not yours.

    Same way with kids. If a person had a child and you become the "Step Parent" you don't get to take that kid away if you guys break up.

    Google search this (I can't link it cause it doesn't let me) -

    "My Friend Is A Bitch, She Took Away Her Husbands Dog In Divorce? girlsaskguys"

    Search that and click on first link and look at that question, one of my friends ask that question a while back, it's horrible

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  • Wrastle for it. LOL

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  • The dog looks like its about to make that decision for them?

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  • Those sound like great suggestions but it's never going to be easy, just like with any other custody battles. People are emotionally invested in their beloved fur kid.

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  • No matter what it's going to be a huge change for the pet. Just like for the people, it's going to hurt them too.

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  • Thank you

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  • how i will handle pet custody after a break-up:
    "you can have them, idc"

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  • As hard as losing the pet completely

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  • Thank you

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  • Here is the simple and effective rule for pet custody after breakup. If it's a cat or a stupid yappy small dog, it should go to her. If it's a real dog it should go to him.

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  • Just eat them. Problem solved.

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  • I see.

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  • Is this a real issue people have in life?

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  • After she left me for another man I had our pets put down. I told her she could keep the flat so when I moved out I left our dead pets on the kitchen table.

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    • honestlyyy wtf

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    • What the fuck is wrong with you

    • If you had children with her instead of pets, would you have killed them and left them in the flat too?
      You might want to see a psychiatrist, just being real.

What Girls Said 7

  • To be honest with you. This is why I don't believe in shacking up before marriage, let alone bringing a child out of wedlock into the world, or adopting or buying a pet while your in that relationship. Unlike marriage which can dissolve with divorce, dating relationships are fickle in nature. And when you start getting into permanent life-changing decisions like this, it can get really messy.

    "The pet in your life should be one of the priorities when you come to the table to discuss the way going forward with your ex and ensure that your pet has the best possible life going forward." That's all you can really do at this point.

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  • It’s always simple to me: who paid for the animal? Who takes the most care of it? Who has the best bond with it?

    Whoever can answer those with “yes” gets to keep it.

    In the Netherlands, we have a few laws on this.

    If you own the passport and paid for its upkeep for at least two weeks the animal is yours.

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  • Nice Take.

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  • This is one of the dumbest concepts I've ever heard of.

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  • Those are good points. It's tough but sometimes we have to set our egos aside.

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  • I want to keep my 🦁

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  • cool

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