As with children, the dog could be traumatised by the fragmentation of the family circle. Although the decision over the car, or the sofa is often acrimonious enough with standard pre-nups in place, many break ups are made even worse by arguing as to who keeps the mutt.
How many professional dog walkers have we met in the local park who are the go- between- in complicated human relationships…….always keeping a diplomatic loyalty to both owners of the dog……which is as it should be. However doggy day care can be as complicated for divorced owners as it can be for child care.
Top divorce lawyer Vanessa Lloyd Platt joined us on our radio show to talk about the increase in cases of break up battles exacerbated over who takes custody of the dog. It seems that until recently, there has been no legally binding document in existence focusing solely on the pet – a vital piece of paperwork that could make a separation less stressful all round – especially for the beloved pooch.
So thumbs up to The Blue Cross. Launching the world’s first legal ‘Pet Nup’ ,this charity hopes to help make ‘breaking-up’ easier, avoiding unnecessary heart-ache, whilst securing the pets’ future welfare. Developed by specialist lawyers the document sets out the rights of ownership and responsibilities in the event of a relationship breakdown and covers on-going pet care.
30% of dog owning couples researched, during a relationship break down, were in dispute over the details of ongoing dog care. The biggest bones of contention occured over an ability to walk the dog regularly. Other issues were who paid for vet care, availability for grooming, plans for holidays and how long the dog should be left alone.
The Blue Cross figures are alarming. They reveal that in the past five years over a thousand pets have been given up during a divorce case – that’s about four animals a week going into rescue. Two thirds of the cases interviewed admitted to their divorce being made way more stressful due to arguing over the custody of their beloved pet.
66% of the pet owners interviewed would have liked a pre-agreed written agreement, stipulating from the outset who would get ownership of pets and who would pay for what in the event of a divorce.
We openly admit that our bull breeds are our ‘Furkids’ – a new term in the Oxford Dictionary describing a child substitute that’s a cat or a dog. Despite our emotional attachment to our ‘girls’, in a court of law they, like all animals, would be considered ‘chattel’ – like a car or a fridge.
The new Pet Nup from The Blue Cross is a breath of fresh air and one that recognizes dogs, cats, even ferrets or goldfish as sentient creatures that have feelings. How cruel to leave your best friend homeless, abandoned due to unfortunate circumstance.
Barking Blondes by Jo Good Anna Webb, published by Hamlyn, £12.99 www.octopusbooks.co.uk