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CBS News: Sunday Morning – Custody of Pets


We recently received an email from a producer with CBS NEWS: SUNDAY MORNING asking for our assistance in researching a story involving custody of pets after the owners break up, separate or get divorced.

The subject of pet custody had never entered my mind before. I decided to search online and was quite amazed to find countless articles referring to what happens to a pet when custody is an issue. It become very apparent that it can become quite costly and very complicated.

The options are joint custody, sole custody with visitation, sole custody with no visitation or splitting the pets between partners, just to name a few. There can also be disputes over pet support. It is pretty much on the same track as custody and support of children.

According to a 2006 survey of lawyers by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 25% reported and increase in pet custody, about 90% of the cases involving dogs. Can you imagine what the number would be in 2011?

After finding all this information I realized it is truly a subject that warrants attention and decided to help. The producer is looking for a few couples who have joint custody of a pet to ask how it is going and possibly ask one of them for an on camera interview.

If you are in this type of situation and would like to help, please contact Steve S. Glauber, CBS News: Sunday Morning, 524 W. 57 St., NY NY 10019. Tel. (212) 975-7196 Cell (917) 796-3590

We would appreciate your mentioning to him that you saw the invitation to participate at


About Author

Devoted pet owner and now, devoted pet editor, Judi worked in traditional offices, keeping the books and the day-to-day operations organized. Taking her dog to work every day for over a decade never seemed odd. Neither did having an office cat. She knows what it's like to train a new puppy and she's experienced the heartache of losing beloved companions. Retired, she currently lives with her spoiled dog and four chickens (who are, interestingly enough, also spoiled).


  1. We wish all of our relationships will last forever. However, the fairy tale does end for some. My parents were separated when I was two, so I live my life thinking that break ups do happen. With that said, I also took into account my pets. Kept everything well documented that I was the sole caregiver just in case my partner wanted to take my pets away from me. It is sad that we have to think that way, but I wanted to make sure the pets that I love and am the sole caretaker stay with me.

  2. I have a friend who stayed with his wife longer than he wanted to just because he knew if they got a divorce he would lose custody of his dog, Ozzy. He loved his dog more than his wife.

    Great blog 🙂


  3. I know of a few rescues who insist that if a couple is unmarried, that one be the legal adopter rather than joint, especially if they are under 25. This way, it is pre-determined who will take responsibility for the pet if something should happen, rather than the pet be abandoned because they can’t decide or no one wants him/her. It is almost better for a pet to be fought over (both want) rather than neither one takes them.

  4. This is an interesting issue I had not consider before, either. I look forward to seeing the CBS story about it, as I am a loyal viewer of CBS Sunday Morning and know they will do an excellent job reporting the many facets of the issue.
    I am a writer who helps people tell the stories of their lives and preserve them in book form. I also make this service available to people who want to tell the stories of their pets to create a lasting portrait of that beloved dog, cat, horse, bird, or other pet. See for more information under “Other Services Offered.”

  5. We’ve had a client who after a break up had similar issues/concerns about pet custody. We agree with Rob the pet should pick and stay with the person who will care for them the best.

  6. When I worked at a veterinary clinic we had a couple who owned a dog & were getting divorced. The husband was so jaded that he brought the dog in to be euthanized without the wife knowing it!! We had no clue until the wife called inquiring if her dog had been brought in. The husband had signed the authorization for & everything. It was an awful situation in which thank god I never experienced again!

    Shannon Cole
    Shannon’s Pet-Sitting
    “Quality Pet Care in the Comfort of Their Own Home”

    PHONE: (847) 987-4322

  7. I’m not trying to promote my work as a pet custody mediator (this is more of a vacation for me than a business. I never turn anyone away who needs my help); I just want to let people know that I have a positive alternative for separating partners with a pet.

    I’ve been a mediator for 35 years and now specialize in working with people with companion animal concerns. Courts treat animals as property; I regard them as equal parties. I noticed that many animals, especially dogs, get sick when people are fighting over them in court. I also noticed that the people suffer from the legal process–financially and emotionally. It does not have to be that hard.

    I just wanted all of you to know about this resource. If interested, my web site is

    Great Blog and comments!

    Charles Regal

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This post contains affiliate links, which means we earn a commission for sales referred from links on our site. We're also Amazon Associates, so we may earn from those qualifying purchases, too. Learn more!