Not married, but if we split who gets our dog??

J - posted on 03/29/2014 ( 2 moms have responded )

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My boyfriend and I have a beautiful Pit, we are not breaking up but I'd like to know for the future. Id like to declare ownership NOW in case. But how do I do that??! (Illinois)

Here are the facts,
My boyfriend and I do not live together. But I am there all of the time and sleep over every night. It is his mom's house with two siblings and one baby, of one of the siblings. And her husband.

He bought her, from a very sketchy family in a parking lot, he says he has the papers for her but I've never seen them. I was with him while he paid for her. $350 in cash. I think they were emailed to him if there even were any papers.
He has payed for food, and doctor appointments.
He has serious anger problems and has acted out on our dog numerous times to where I had to take her to spend the night at my house for a few days on numerous occasions.
He lives in his mom's house who hates the dog. The brother barely treats her right either.
She lives in the basement where his room is 24/7. That is no life for a dog, the basement is not even that nice, but it's big. She's happy but wishes she could come up stairs and is afraid to go downstairs at any other house (mine and neighbors) in fear of staying down there once she goes.

I am responsible for her entirely. He just pays for things. But I am going to change that.
I make her doctors appointments, got her spayed under my name, keep track of her Frontline and Heartguard days, take her on two walks a day, make sure she gets play time before I go to work, feed her, wash and refill her water bowl, etc. I have deticated my life to this amazing dog. He barely even plays with her or pays attention to her. In total, probably 15 minutes out of the entire day. Sometimes not at all. He just expects her to climb in bed with him and be there to cuddle at the end of the day. He puts no effort into her. He thinks she'll be fine if she is weeks late for shots or medication. Or if she is hurt. He chosen a college party over her well being post-spay when it was believed she was having issues. (thankfully she was perfectly ok) He would chose money over her any day, and has.

I have been saving money so that in case I had to take over full responsibility for our dog, I would be ready. But I realized, I am 100% responsible for her already. It's all on me. And If he actually fought for her if we breakup, I would have to prove she is way more mine than his. And a major part of that is through paying for her. As of today I am switching the account at our vet to my name, not his, and paying for everything on my debit card, keeping all receipts from vet, as well as the pet store. I want to be ready for this.

Our dog sleeps with me, cries for me if I'm upstairs, is a little scared of my boyfriend. His neighbors and my entire family know that this dog would not still be around if it wasn't for me, and that our pup truely cares more for me than him.

His past 3 family dogs have had something happen where he gave them away or simply didn't want them any more.

He has said so many times, that he doesn't want our dog anymore; when he gets angry at her for simple things such as chewing his shoes.

He knows she would be better with me, because it may sound silly to some but I would risk my life to save this dog and he wouldn't even think too. Pets simply aren't important to him as they are to me. And with her especially I feel a connection that if I ever lost her my heart would break. She is the reason I want to save Pitbulls as a career. He is also the reason, because seeing how he treats her sometimes makes me extremely protective over her. The main reason I am at his house every day Is because I do NOT trust him alone with her sometimes. And she would go into depression if I didn't.

So what does it come down to when ownership is defined? He thinks she is his. But I have proved she is mine. For years now.
He has paid in the past, but I have done absaloutely everything else and I am now paying for EVERYTHING without a problem. (He has car payments and many financial problems including a job that has secretly hired him)
His family doesn't want the dog at the house
My family and his neighbors have been involved with the situations where I had to bring her to my house in fear of her safety. So everyone around us knows the deal. The only thing soon to be left having to do with him, (after a while goes by with me having paid for her expenses) will be that she lives in his mom's house. A house which is not nearly as good as it should be for her, the family doesn't want her there..The only reason she is here is because I am here as well every day. This is where we hangout.

I know that if he actually took me to court for our dog, I would win. I have proof, witnesses, etc.
But it bothers me when the brother days "she is HIS dog not yours" because he is not even worthy of the title "dog owner"
I am with our dog every hour of the day aside from the four hours I spend either at work a few days a week or spending time with my own family dog back at my house.

How can I claim ownership now? A document?
HELP please! :)

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J - posted on 03/30/2014

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Something similar happened to me not long ago and I got ownership of the dog. I'm glad that you are planning ahead. I admire your kind heart and hope this works out in your favor. It's good that you are keeping receipts. Keep everything well documented; everything that you pay for, all receipts, and a written diary of any specific incidents of abuse or neglect, and get a copy of the vet records showing you alone, listed as the owner. It's doubtful that he could afford an attorney, but these documents will help just in case. Possession of the dog is the key here. Be careful not to reveal any of this to your boyfriend. Next time he gets angry with something the dog does, or says he doesn't want him anymore,you can say something like "I know how frustrated he gets you. Why don't I start keeping him at my house more often." Its very important to start bringing the dog to your house. Possession is nine-tenths of the law is an expression meaning that ownership is easier to maintain if one has possession of something, or difficult to enforce if one does not."In a property dispute (whether real or personal), in the absence of clear and compelling testimony or documentation to the contrary, the person in actual, custodial possession of the property is presumed to be the rightful owner." If you and your boyfriend get into an argument that seems like it could end things, if at all possible,it is VERY important that you keep a lid on your emotions and let things calm down (act like everything is ok for the dog's sake), THEN get the dog to your house before leaving (but #1 is to keep yourself safe). Also, I learned that no matter how much you are threatened with theft charges, etc. don't let it scare you.... you must keep the dog with YOU. The police will NOT charge you with any crime and they will NOT get involved with a possession dispute over a dog. The reason is because it is considered to be a civil/domestic dispute. You can call your local police department and ask to speak with dispatch and they will tell you, so you will feel more empowered if that day comes.Your boyfriend with his anger problems sounds very volatile, so keep yourself safe by having a plan for all possible incidents. Also it would benefit you if there is someone out-of-town that he doesn't know about where you can get away (with the dog), if things do get ugly between the two of you.
Hopefully it won't come to this, but kudos to you for having a plan! Hugs and good luck to you guys!

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J - posted on 04/02/2014

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Thank you so much, you really helped a lot and I feel I have a lot more of a chance now, tx! :)

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