A judge in Spain granted joint custody of a dog to a separate couple who went to court to determine who the animal should live with.
The Madrid court found that both parties were “co-responsible” and “co-custodians” of the Panda dog.
A lawyer who took the case to court said it was a “groundbreaking” ruling.
Spain is currently drafting new legislation to ensure that animals are no longer considered objects and are legally recognized as living beings.
This status would make it easier for a partner to apply for joint custody of a pet following a breakup.
But Lola García, of the law firm Law & Animals, took this case to court under the 1987 European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals, which Spain ratified in 2017.
She said it was a “pioneering decision” because her client was able to declare herself not as a “co-owner” of Panda but as a “co-responsible” and a “co-curator”.
Panda’s adoption contract, veterinary bills and photographs in which “the three are seen as family, exactly as if it were a family photo with children” were presented as evidence, García said, according to RTVE.
The judge established that “from the procedural elements emerges an emotional relationship between the actor and the dog worthy of legal protection”.
Panda will now alternate between the two partners for one month at a time.
Read about dog keeping around the world
In UK, dogs are legally viewed as inanimate objects similar to cars, houses, or other personal items. Custody cases boil down to determining who is the sole owner.
In Australia, there is no legislation on how courts should manage the ways of living for pets after a breakup.
France changed its law in 2014 so that pets were considered “living and sensitive beings” rather than “movable property”. The new status meant that couples could fight for shared custody in divorce cases.
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