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Disputes over ownership of your dog, cat or horse


A significant percentage of our cases involve pet custody disputes. These could be between former spouses, romantic partners, roommates, friends. We have seen pets left with a friend for a period of time and then the friend refuses to return it. We have many intra-family cases where a mother and daughter, brothers, an aunt and niece and even a grandmother and grandson cannot agree about ownership and custody of the pet dog or cat.

Our first priority is to see if the parties can resolve these issues themselves. That is often preferable, and in many cases is how parties first attempt to share custody. We can assist in drafting visitation agreements or even joint custody contracts spelling out everyone’s rights and obligations. Just as often, however, circumstances change, misunderstandings develop, animosity arises, and one party simply stops honoring the sharing agreement, whether or not that agreement was in writing. Then, the courts become involved.

When we have to go to court our clients benefit from our experiences in prior cases. Each case is different and we focus on the “when.” “When” did this once jointly-owned pet become yours? Or, when did it become theirs? Courts often struggle to identify the most important factual and legal issues involved; our experience helps guide the court’s understanding. For instance, while pets have a technical legal status as personal property, we can argue for consideration about what is in the best interests of the dog or cat. Many other factors about the parties play a role – the ownership, registration, veterinary care, training and companionship history; the parties respective living situations; work schedules, resources, experience. There are dozens of ways to argue pet custody cases because there are hundreds of ways to show indicators of ownership. Often our goal is to break through walls of resistance, whether those walls are put up by the court, other lawyers, the parties or family members. We advocate tirelessly for our client’s rights, and always seek to build better arguments from prior experience.One of the most rewarding moments as lawyers at Boston Dog Lawyers is when we recover a pet for our client after they were told they’d never see him or her again. These cases always involve significant effort and advocacy, but BDL answers the call to meet our client’s most urgent needs involving their beloved pets.

Pet Custody
Pets Custody Agreement
Contact For Pet Custody Lawyer


Request a Consultation with knowledgeable staff to help you determine your rights or obligations based on the facts you present.   

Do you have receipts for the adoption or purchase of your pet?

Can you prove who cares more for the dog on a daily basis?

Who is primarily responsible financially for your pet?

Did you have a text or email agreement to share custody or ownership of your pet

The police usually will not get involved in a pet custody matter and will direct you to civil court

Is your pet your ESA?

We can create winning pet custody arguments even if your name is not on the veterinary records or city license

Who has the better location, more resources (money and time) and experience raising a pet can matter!

We can help. Contact Boston Dog Lawyers by email or by phone to schedule a free initial consultation. We offer flexible office hours to accommodate the needs of our clients, scheduling evening and weekend appointments upon request.

Lawyers for the dog world because It's Time To Bark Back!

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