You need your pet more than ever when you breakup with your significant other. When you feel lonely there is nothing better than the love and snuggles of a pet. But who gets your furry animal after you go your separate ways? Besides the dividing up of furniture, property, and other assets, you need to figure out what to do with the family pet.

You both want your dog or cat and you both probably have a valid claim over them. There is usually no easy solution. Here are some things to consider when deciding who gets the pet.

  1. Who Keeps the Home

Animals don’t adjust well to change so if one of you is keeping the home then it might be best if that person keeps your pet as well. Pets are territorial and naturally want to keep the same routine they have. A change in lifestyle can add unnecessary stress and even cause health problems, even depression.

Another thing to consider is space. If you have a rambunctious dog who needs a lot of space then the person who is moving to the bigger home might be the best fit.

2. Work and Social Life

If one of you works from home or has flexibility with their hours it might be best if they keep your pet as they can take better care of your animal. If you work long hours it might not be in the best interest to take your pet. Another thing to consider is your social life. Are you going to embrace the new single lifestyle? Are you going to go to clubs or catch up with friends? If so then you’ll probably be late and not have time for a pet.

3. Finances

Pets can be expensive and you need to factor that into who gets to be the primary owner. Not only do you need to feed and buy toys for your pet, but you need to take them to regular vet checkups. And if your pet suddenly gets sick, swallows something, or has another emergency then the bills can rack up very quickly.

4. The Legal

Some couples fight over their furry friend like they would their children. If possible, you want to avoid all legal scenarios when it comes to pets, but unfortunately sometimes it has to come down to lawyers. So legally who gets you pet? In British Columbia, the Family Law Act is what defines a spouse as a married person or a person living with another in a continuous “marriage-like relationship” for over 2 years. Upon separation, the Family Law Act treats a pet as family property and each spouse is entitled to some of the property, usually a 50-50 basis. There have been cases where a judge has awarded a pet to one person, but usually cases don’t get that far.


Whether you share custody of your puppy, have one person be the main caretaker, or trade off during holidays, once you and your ex figure out how you will handle the situation, write it down and stick to it. Any back and forth and “he said, she said” will ultimately hurt both you and your pet.  Ultimately, you both need to decide what is best for your animal and don’t use your pet for revenge.

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