Wisconsin Considers Pet Custody Law

Pet custody

Wisconsin legislators have introduced a bill that would outline how divorcing couples and the courts should handle custody battles over pets.

This would allow couples to specify visitation rights, the right to move pets out of state, and other pet-related issues. If the couple cannot agree on what to do with the pet, the judge can either choose a spouse to take care of the pet or the pet will be given to a local shelter.

The bill is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. The bill’s lead author, state Rep. Sheryl Albers, says she is pushing the law because of her own husband’s messy divorce. Her husband and his ex-wife fought over who would take care of the family dog. The judge in the case ruled that the dog would split up his time between the two. Albers heard of other similar issues with family pets and decided that the law needed changing.

From San Francisco Chronicle:

States traditionally consider animals to be property, so whichever spouse can establish ownership is granted custody. If ownership cannot be established, judges often try to figure out which person is the better caretaker and give the animal to him or her.

Feuding parties have been known to engage in battles that reflect the intensity usually seen in child-custody disputes.

One of the most famous cases was the divorce of Stanley and Linda Perkins, wealthy San Diegans who made national news over their fight for a pointer-greyhound mix named Gigi.

After two years of vying to become Gigi’s sole custodian, a judge in 2000 gave the dog to Linda. Among evidence shown to the court? A “Day in the Life of Gigi” video, featuring the dog sleeping under her chair at work, cuddling at home and playing fetch at the beach.

And then there was the case of the German shepherd with digestion problems. Each Friday, the husband would pick up the dog for the weekend. Each Sunday afternoon, right before returning the animal to his ex-wife, the man would feed the dog fatty sausages.

“It got messy,” Glowacki said. “We had to specify in court that if he wanted to see the dog, he couldn’t feed it that unless he kept the dog overnight.”

4 Responses to “Wisconsin Considers Pet Custody Law”

  1. trucorgi says:

    Here’s the bill

    Rep. Sheryl Albers who is not an animal lover, introduced the bill because she married a man with joint custody of his children and their dog. She did not want the dog and thinks the judge should have put the children’s dog in a shelter. It’s a bad law.

    I’m assuming this is posted here on Itchmo with an animal rights slant is because the AR’s think this is yet another small step in elevating the status of pets from property to personhood. The judge’s ruling to allow the children to keep their dog, even though neither parent or their new spouses, wanted to care for the dog was a correct one in my opinion.

  2. Amanda says:

    “If the couple cannot agree on what to do with the pet, the judge can either choose a spouse to take care of the pet or the pet will be given to a local shelter.”

    The pet given to a shelter? So we put a death sentence on the animal??? We overcrowd the shelters even more with pets from feuding pet parents?? Whoever thought this up was a moron and is obviously not thinking about what is best for the pet!!!!

  3. Lynn says:

    I say put the spouses in jail until they decide who should get the animal. Killing the animal is not an option.

  4. Charles Regal says:

    When separating partners are locked into the vicious cycle of a legal battle over a shared pet–the pet will suffer. They absorb human feelings like sponges and get sick when the people they have bonded with are distressed. Mediation is a much more positive and humane alternative to the court system, which treat pets as property and too often disregard their importance in peoples’ lives.

    Charles Regal,
    Pet Custody Mediator

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