My take on the custody of pets

Wednesday, October 10, 2018
OPINION: Stan Statham, Daily News
 
I was both pleased and surprised when I learned a couple of weeks ago that California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed a proposal into law that asks judges to seriously consider their custody decisions that affect dogs and cats when they are deciding who gets to keep the animals. I was pleased because a few years go we purchased a dog and named him Buster.
 
That dog has pretty much grown to be loved by all human beings. It didn’t take very long until we affectionately changed his name to Buster Stanley Statham. He is such a friendly and good looking Labrador that I have often been told if we ever wanted to give him away countless people would be glad to have him in their family.
 
What I am writing about in today’s column tells anyone how they might have an easier time getting legal custody of their own dog or cat after a divorce. Today I was again happy to be sharing Buster’s company with two neighbors named Joe and Christina. Buster regularly trots back and forth between our two neighboring homes. Buster loves adults, kids, other dogs and many friends that pet and play with him each and every day.
 
Supporters of changing this animal custody law include the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Assembly bill 2274 will lead to fewer homeless animals. Congratulations to Assemblyman Bill Quirk of the east bay in the San Francisco Bay Area for thinking of and authoring this proposal in the first place.
 
In divorce proceedings many couples cannot even agree on custody arrangements for their own children. There’s always a chance custody decisions might work better with animals. The Association of Certified Family Law Specialists said that this new animal custody law might overwhelm our family courts system. However, Alaska and Illinois already have similar dog and cat custody laws.
 
I hope I would never be in a situation that prevents me from seeing and thoroughly enjoying Buster’s company. One of the things I love most is when I get on one of my quads and drive through the trees hoping to see Buster again.
 
I have never been one to believe much in body language, but Buster has changed my belief in that. As I approach my neighbors Buster often hears me coming and begins racing through the trees to meet me in a state of sheer delight. Then there’s the time when my neighbor Joe showed me how Buster can leap straight up in the air and catch a pear as it falls to the ground. Right now Buster is in his early twenties, in dog years.
 
It is time to tell you my take on this. After bringing this animal custody subject to many friends and neighbors, along with having a great deal of time to personally play with Buster today, I decided I agree with Governor Jerry Brown on this. I would have signed this proposal into law just like he did.
 
I don’t believe animals have any legal rights, but I think their value as family members should always be considered. This law starts at the beginning of this coming year. Please give me your opinion on this new law