A dog is a man’s best friend – but in six states, a pup is also a legal family member.
The Pew Research Center indicated that 51 percent of pet owners consider their animals to be as much a part of their family as a human member.
Researchers who studied the relationships between dogs and their owners have found that people considering them as family members is a social trend.
The six states that have made this social trend legal are New York, Alaska, California, Illinois, Maine, and New Hampshire.
That means that since they are family members, pets in those states can find themselves in the middle of ugly custody cases. Treated like children, pup ownership can be argued and it might even be up to a judge to decide who gets custody of the beloved dog.
The six states that say that dogs are a legal family member are New York, Alaska, California, Illinois, Maine, and New Hampshire
Studies show that 51 percent of pet owners consider their animals to be as much a part of their family as a human member
According to Psychology Today, the custody of a child is decided by most states using the best interest analysis, meaning what’s best for the child.
Some factors in this method when battling for custody of a dog include each person’s ability to care for the canine and the relationship of the animal with family members.
A court in New York would usually consider who the primary caretaker is, the health of both owners, work schedules and pet supplies.
People in New York seeking custody of an animal in divorce or separation proceedings should be prepared to bring vet records, video and photos of them with their pet, and notes about who generally takes care of it.
The consideration of who would get custody of the dog would be based on areas such as scheduling, pet supplies and previous ownership
Canada is a different story in part due to Justice Richard Danyliuk from Saskatoon, who ruled that dogs are legal property and not family members.
When Danyliuk explained his 2016 ruling, he said, ‘Many dogs are treated as members of the family with whom they live, but after all is said and done, a dog is a dog.’
He cited the purchasing dogs from breeders and noted that people tend to keep ill children away from animals for reasons he didn’t consider them family members.
‘When our children are seriously ill, we generally do not engage in an economic cost/benefit analysis to see whether the children are to receive medical treatment, receive nothing, or even have their lives ended to prevent suffering,’ he said.
He warned a Canadian couple pursuing a dog custody battle in court that it could go badly for them and their pet.
The justice stated: ‘Both parties should bear in mind that if the court cannot reach a decision on where the dogs go, it is open to the court under the legislation to order them sold and the proceeds split.’
The US Government passed the PETS Act in 2006 after finding that people preferred to stay with their pets rather than evacuate during Hurricane Katrina
In a way, the US government has recognized it without recognizing dogs as legal family members.
The Fritz Institute via Psychology Today found that half of New Orleans residents refused to evacuate during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 without their pets.
Those people stayed behind to protect their animals despite Hurricane Katrina being a Category 5 storm.
Congress passed the PETS Act just one year later, which requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide shelter for household pets during an emergency.
This law applies to every state in the US during a natural disaster, not just Louisiana.