Q&A - Who is legally entitled to the dog now my girlfriend and I have split up?

Q: I recently split up with my girlfriend. She moved out of the home we shared and took our expensive pedigree dog with her when she left. At first she agreed that I could look after the dog every other week and this arrangement worked until she got a new job. Since she started the new job, however, the poor thing has been stuck in the house on its own all day during her "weeks".

I can't bear to think of the dog being shut up in her house all day, especially as I have a neighbour who is happy to take him out when he's here and I am at work. I feel it would be far better for the dog if it lived with me permanently but my ex won't agree to it. I paid for the dog and all its veterinary treatment so surely I have a right to claim ownership?

A:  There is no definitive way of proving this from one document or registration so you need to assemble some evidence.  You may have Kennel Club information, which supports your ownership. You may also have receipts from the breeder and the vets, which supports your ownership and investment in the dog. 

In the absence of an amicable agreement between yourself and your ex-partner you will need to apply to the Court to have these issues dealt with.  You will need to ask the Court to make a Declaration of Ownership, an Order for the return of the dog and, if necessary, an Order for damages for the wrongful retention of your dog.

These situations are very difficult and personal, particularly when both parties have the best interest of the dog at heart.  It is always better to come to some sort of amicable arrangement and try and move on.