Dog fight: Women take custody battle for dachshund to court


Puppy is 'love of my life' says woman fighting New York's first 'matrimonial pet custody case'

LAST UPDATED AT 11:38 ON Thu 5 Dec 2013

TWO women are battling for sole custody of a two-year-old after the collapse of their marriage.

What's unusual about that? Well, the infant is a dachshund called Joey and the court case to decide which woman gets to keep him is New York's "first matrimonial pet-custody case".

Shannon Louise Travis, 32, and her soon-to-be ex-wife Trisha Bridget Murray are fighting over Joey, the New York Post reports. The judge hearing the case admits he's in "uncharted territory".

Travis bought Joey when he was a ten-week old puppy. The dog was a gift for Murray, "a consolation for her having to give away her cat at Travis' insistence," according to court papers.

Murray says the dog became her "little soul mate" and always slept on her side of the bed at the couple's Washington Heights home, the Post says. "I consider this puppy, my little angel Joey, the love of my life," Murray told the paper.

But Travis insists Joey belongs to her. She says she "was the one who cared for and financially supported [him] on a primary basis," according to the law suit.

Manhattan judge Matthew Cooper admits that in a "canine-centric city" like New York it is surprising that custody of a pet has not previously made it into court in the aftermath of a marriage breakdown.

"People who love their dogs almost always love them forever," he says in his ruling granting the women oral arguments. "But with divorce rates at record highs, the same cannot always be said for those who marry."

Cooper says he intends to decide which woman should get custody of Joey by asking them to answer questions similar to those posed during child custody trials such as: "Who spent more time with Joey on a regular basis?"

The parties are still working out a date for the hearing, the Post says. · 

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I think they should have joint custody and share their time with the dog just as they would with a child. This is not a case for 'winner takes all'. Both should be told 'Joint Custody' or the dog goes to another home and they both lose out.

The dog was bought as a gift for Murray, who has already parted with her cat at her partner's request, so morally the dog is hers. However, why not let the dog decide, by seeing which woman he prefers to go to?

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