I read with interest Marcela García’s recent column “After a breakup, who keeps the dog?” (Opinion, Nov. 11). It brings to light the longstanding issue in divorce settlements in which a sentient companion animal and a dining room set are treated equally under the law, as personal property.
García writes that “maybe our laws need to be updated to recognize that pets are both property and cherished family members, and that clarity upfront may save a complicated court case later.”
In 2021 Maine passed a pet custody bill, “An Act to Provide for the Well-being of Companion Animals upon the Dissolution of Marriages,” that does exactly that, and hopefully Massachusetts will follow. This legislation provides reasonable and helpful criteria for the judge to consider when evaluating the companion animal’s well-being, similar to standards applied in child custody cases.
Robert Fisk Jr.
Founder and president
Maine Friends of Animals