Couple in Spain granted joint custody of their border collie in rare court ruling

This story is just an excuse to post stock photos of border collies, which are one of my favorite breeds. (Pre-pandemic I used to watch my friend’s border collie. She was so sweet and smart, but she shed a lot.) There has been a landmark ruling in Spain where a separated couple was granted joint custody of their border collie. Pets are typically considered property in Spain but this case is part of a push for new legislation there to consider animals living creatures. The couple had both signed the adoption agreement and the lawyer for the plaintiff told The Washington Post that she used the argument that her client and the defendant were both caregivers to the dog.

A judge in Madrid granted a couple joint custody of their dog in a rare ruling that marks a step toward the recognition of pets as living beings under the law, to be considered different from property. The couple, a man and a woman who had been together for 20 months and shared a border collie for more than a year, went to trial to determine who the pet should live with following their breakup.

The judge granted “joint custody of Panda (the dog) to each one of the caretakers and people responsible,” taking into account that the “love one might have toward their pet doesn’t exclude that the animal can also receive affection from other people,” according to Spain’s RTVE, which had access to the ruling. The judge found that “the formal ownership of the animal, either as an owner or adoptee, cannot prevail” over “the affection of the petitioner.”

The lawsuit was filed by the woman in September 2020, the judge’s resolution was dated Oct. 7 of this year, and both parties were notified last week. Spain’s Congress has taken steps to change the country’s civil code to stipulate that pets should be considered “sentient beings,” rather than property, but it hasn’t been approved yet.

[From The Washington Post via People]

Years ago I went on a couple of dates with a guy who was separated and had visitation with his dog, which lived with his ex. He really missed that dog, but as an aside it was obvious he wasn’t over his ex, because he called her his “wife,” not his “ex.” (Another guy I went out with did that too, what is up with that? It’s a red flag.) I’m surprised that we haven’t heard more stories about couples going to court over custody of their pets, but maybe that’s because it’s somewhat cut and dried. In the US pets are considered the property of the person who bought or was gifted them, with exceptions in certain states. In New York, Alaska, California and Illinois, the judge may rule with the best interests of the pet in mind. (In France, animals/pets have been considered living beings under the law since 2014.)

Border collies seem adaptable, but so many pets would get stressed going to a different home every month. Also, Panda the border collie’s owners split up in September of last year and the ruling wasn’t issued until now. Did Panda get to see both parents over the past year? I want Panda to be OK!

Goofy and majestic! I need a dog so badly.



Photos credit: Blue Bird and Pixabay on Pexels; Baptist Standaert, Tadeusz Lakota and Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

25 Responses to “Couple in Spain granted joint custody of their border collie in rare court ruling”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. MF1 says:

    I LOVE border collies. They are *adorable*, full of energy, and so, so smart.

  2. Becks1 says:

    I grew up with a border collie. They are insanely smart and as a result, can be very hard pets to have. Our local border collie rescue is really hard to adopt from bc they want to make sure people know “exactly” what they are getting. They need to work, they need exercise, their minds need to be engaged, etc. And while its true they are adaptable, they can also develop very intense relationships with some people in their lives and it would be mean to sever that.

    They are great dogs – like I said I grew up with one, he was from a pig farm a la Babe, lol – and he spent his life herding us 4 kids.

    • searchlight soul says:

      i was going to say this. border collies are hella smart and they need a lot of exercise and attention and, for lack of a better term, projects to keep them busy. they are herding dogs. they get neurotic and destructive if they don’t get all those things. and then there’s coat maintenance…

      beautiful, loyal, super intelligent dogs but anyone thinking of adopting one needs to have their eyes wide open to the fact that they are not the easiest pets to have.

  3. Scal says:

    I have a friend who dognapped their dog during the divorce. Went over to grab boxes, took the dog and ran out.

    They sorted it eventually but I’ll never forget getting a call from her ex in panic mode

  4. dogmom says:

    I used to work with a guy who split custody of his two dogs with his ex. He had moved from Boston to Connecticut for work, and so every weekend or every other weekend (can’t remember the custody schedule) he would drive back to Boston either to pick the dogs up or to drop them off. IDK if that was a court-ordered situation or if they came up with it on their own, though.

  5. minx says:

    Dogs are part of the family! I would be devastated if I couldn’t see a beloved pet.

  6. Malificent says:

    I have friends who got divorced after 10 years. He stayed in Chicago, she moved back to her hometown in Minnesota. They traded off their Airedale every 3 months by meeting in the middle in central Wisconsin. It wasn’t a legal thing — they had a pretty amicable divorce and just made the arrangements themselves.

    • Tessa says:

      I have co-parented my dog with my ex for five years now. We both love our boy and have stayed friends because of him. I have a key to his house and get the dog on scheduled days and he comes to my house to pick him up. Our dog seems to love his endless adoration and its great for when we vacation to always have dog care we trust.

      • TeeBee says:

        love this. you both sound like lovely people, mature and sensible. I wish this kind of arrangement and behaviour were the norm…

      • Agreatreckoning says:

        That is such a beautiful, loving arrangement for the obviously much loved boy. Did you ever think about writing a story about the situation? A lot of split up pet owner’s and non pet owner’s with children could learn quite a bit about handling things lovingly and properly.

        Beautiful border collie pics. Those puppies!! Don’t tell our cat I said that.

        It’s definitely a red flag if someone takes you out and refers to the ex in a present tense. Was it hard to keep a straight face?

      • minx says:

        That is lovely!

  7. Linny says:

    Not uncommon in the Northeast, been happening for years (fighting over dog custody)

  8. Valentina says:

    I have a border collie and I would fight tooth and nail in a court of law for her.

    • LarkspurLM says:

      Ditto! I love Border Collies! We had one that lived to 15 and now have an Aussie mix we got 2 years ago when he was 7 and his 9th birthday is next week. Love love love the herding dogs!

    • Veronika says:

      We have a border collie & an Australian shepherd. Hubs & I have a strong attachment to both pups as we’ve had the dogs before we had kids. They’re a lot of work if you’re not expecting it, although I grew up on a farm with herding breeds so I knew what we were getting into with both breeds.
      My border collie was my lifeline when I had to self quarantine from my family (the longest span was 8 weeks & it broke me 😥). I was so grateful to have her home with me during such a scary time.

  9. Ann says:

    Our first dog, who lived to be 17, was a border collie mix. She was incredibly smart and energetic, and also sweet and loving. Just the best dog ever. But when she was young, she was an escape artist! Something to consider. I like that people are working it out with custody of pets.

  10. Oria says:

    Grew up with a border collie that didn’t like any children, except for me. He guarded me and protected me more than my own two parents. Haha!

    He had this thing were he would walk in front of me on walks or outside, and if he thought anything was too dangerous for me he would make me wait or he would hoard me along somewhere else. He would always come and stand between me and any person I talked to. And when we went for walks he would never leave my side and only accepted walking on the side of me closest to other people and traffic.
    He would also come get me to show me things he thought I’d enjoy, like when I was inside playing and there was a parade of military airplanes in the sky far away, he came bursting in and grabbed my sweater and dragged me outside, to have me come with him so we could watch it together. He also ran away every morning after my dad had walked him, to walk me to school. He walked behind me making sure I was fine and ran home again. We shared everything and his soul was such a sweet, mature one. I was only a kid, but I miss him every day still.

  11. GoldenMom says:

    Colorado has same ‘Guardian’ status for pet owners….in my nasty (NASTY!) divorce, ex husband ruined any chances he had to get the 3 golden retrievers we had by putting an insane cash value on each of them. Judge commented that it was lucky we didn’t have kids, he would have monetized them as well. Needless to say, I got them and they lived happy lives!

    • Angie says:

      I’m glad you got to keep your goldens! I am a golden mom and would kill to have three of them – they are the best dogs.

      • GoldenMom says:

        Right? They are the best bois. You can never have too many. Ex was living in a 10th floor apartment in DC. I’m in Colorado mountains. He was not happy about being kicked to the kerb…and taking it out on me by trying to torment them. I like to think they didn’t miss him for a minute. They lived their very best lives, especially with all the shouting and angst out of the house! And finally got to sleep in the bed. Win win.

  12. AmelieOriginal says:

    My sister lived in an apartment with roommates for awhile with one of the roommates sharing custody of her elderly dachsund with her ex-boyfriend. They switched off every two weeks, so for two weeks out of the month the dachsund would be with them. They weren’t supposed to have pets but because it was such a small dog and he was only there half the month, it seemed to work out okay.

  13. schmootc says:

    I grew up on a farm and my Dad mostly had border collies and Australian shepherds when I was growing up. We had one that wouldn’t herd cows, but he loved to herd gates. Kick a gate to close it and that dog would herd the crap out of that gate. Those dogs above look so clean! Ours were mostly covered in manure. If you’re a dog like that, can’t really beat a roll in some good manure. Lovely dogs, but they do definitely need a lot of exercise.

  14. Soni says:

    When my now husband and I first got together, I would call him by my ex husbands name frequently. It really freaked me out. But apparently it’s just muscle memory and has nothing to do with actual feelings. Thank god he never took it to heart because our relationship is a million times better than my last one!!

  15. Lissdogmom02 says:

    You should get a puppy, mine are the best company & they are good hiking/walking companions. My ex tried to get me to share my dog when we split, had the dog before him, I set him straight about his rights which were none. I know a couple who split & went to court over a cat.