Best Interests Standard Does Not Apply to Pets

Unlike cases of child custody and visitation, courts do not apply the “best interest” standard in the cases of domestic animals.

In one Texas case, the court named the wife managing conservator of the parties’ dog, Bonnie Lou, and gave the husband “reasonable visitation rights with the dog.” The husband appealed, but the court said: “Bonnie Lou is a very fortunate little dog with two humans to shower upon her attention and genuine love frequently not received by human children from their divorced parents. All too often, children of broken homes are used by their parents to vent spite on each other or they use them as human ropes in a post divorce tug-of-war. In trying to hurt each other, they often wreak immeasurable damage on the innocent pawns they profess to love. Dogs involved in divorce cases are luckier than children in divorce cases as they do not have to be treated as humans. The office of “managing conservator” was created for the benefit of human children, not canine.”

In this case, the court said that dogs are property and Bonnie Lou belonged to the wife, but it hoped that both the husband and the wife would “continue to enjoy the companionship of Bonnie Lou for years to come within the guidelines set by the trial court.”

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