Case could change the way courts see dog custody issues.

Posted By elaine on September 22, 2009

When a couple “splits the sheets”, what happens to the dog?   Well in most cases, the dog is considered property and a decision is made by a judge the same as though the couple were battling over a boat, but a case in New Jersey could change the way courts see dog “custody” issues.

Darling DexterDarling Dexter

This started when Eric Dare and Doreen Houseman first asked a judge to determine which of the two would get custody of their Pug, Dexter.  The  judge he treated the dog as if it were simply another item of property, and he gave Dare the dog, because he already had possession, and awarded Houseman the $1,500 , the purchase price for the purebred Pug.   Houseman appealed the decision, so back to court they went.

In that court a landmark ruling by a state appeals court determined that the first judge should also have considered Dexter’s “subjective value” to the parties and heard additional testimony.  In that testimony Dare said he purchased Dexter and has fed and cared for him his entire life, but Houseman claimed she cared for the dog and loved him like a child, even dressing him up for Halloween so the new judge ruled this week that the couple would each get time with Dexter, but he wouldn’t call “custody” because he said dogs are still considered property.

Now Dexter will go back and forth between the couple for five weeks at a time.  So far, Dare and Housman say, each has spent more than $20,000 on legal bills to keep their beloved Pug.  It is not like this is a wealthy couple with nothing else to do with the money.  Dare is a police officer and Houseman; an office manager.  Why spend all your money on a Pug?  Well they both felt as though they were fighting over their child, and Dare says he may even appeal the decision that ruled they have to share little Dex,  so that 40-thousand dollar bill could go higher!

Story and Photo Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

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