Two New York women are resorting to litigation to resolve the one dispute in their divorce settlement: who will get sole custody of their two-year-old miniature Dachshund?

Manhattan Justice Matthew Cooper has granted oral arguments for New York’s first matrimonial pet-custody case at a date yet to be set. Judge Cooper, who owns a 12-year-old rescue pit bull named Peaches, intends to ask Joey’s “mothers” to answer questions similar to those posed during child custody trials, such as “Who spent more time with Joey on a primary basis?” A cutting-edge case for animal rights, Cooper says “there is certainly room to give real consideration to a case involving a treasured pet.”

On February 6, 2011, Shannon Louise Travis, 32, bought a 10-week-old puppy, named Joey, as consolation for then-girlfriend Trisha Bridget Murray for insisting she give up her cat. The couple married on October 12, 2012, and on June 11, 2013, Murray moved out with the dog when Travis was out of the city on a business trip, and subsequently relocated to Freeport, Maine to pursue a PhD degree.

Travis filed for divorce on July 11, 2013. In September, Travis brought forward the motion for the dog to be returned to her “sole care and custody” because she “was the one who cared for and financially supported Joey on a primary basis” and would be in the dog’s “best interests.” Murray, who has current possession of the dog, considers “this puppy, my little angel Joey, the love of my life,” and opposes the motion in all respects.


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