Animal Law

After $40K Legal Battle, Judge Gives Fractured Couple Joint Custody of Pet Pug


Doreen Houseman and Eric Dare spent some $40,000 battling over the custody of the pet pug they shared back when they were still together as a couple.

But now they will continue to have a relationship, of sorts concerning their custody of Dexter, which a New Jersey judge has awarded jointly, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Salem County Superior Court Judge John Tomasello ruled yesterday that the six-year-old dog must rotate between their two homes every five weeks, the newspaper reports.

The canine custody case already reached appellate court earlier, when a precedent-setting ruling was made that Houseman had to consider the pet’s “subjective value” to his owners when awarding custody rather than simply his value as property. Now Dare, who originally won custody because he had possession of the dog–and paid the dog’s $1,500 cost to Houseman–says he is considering another appeal.

Animal rights groups have argued in recent years that pets aren’t simply property. But attorney James Carter, who represented Dare, apparently isn’t convinced that treating pet custody cases like child custody cases is the right approach.

“As far as the legal community goes, many attorneys realize this would be the first step down a slippery slope,” he has said.

Additional coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Legal Bills in Pet Pug Custody Case Top $40K as Judge Mulls ‘Subjective Value’”

Gloucester County Times: “3-year custody battle over pet pug ends in custody-sharing agreement for Monroe Township couple”

Hat tip: Above the Law.

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