Friday, December 14, 2018
When Maddy, a 39-year-old gallery founder living in Virginia, split from her husband, she imagined their parting would be placid. Aspirational even. Their home would be informally partitioned—she would live in one part, he in another, then there would be a common area in which their two children, along with their Boston terrier and standard poodle, would roam freely. “I thought we were going to have this amazing Scandinavian divorce,” she says.
Yeah, no. That plan hit the skids. Instead, she found a pet-friendly apartment building and assumed the animals would go with her because she says her ex was never crazy about the pets. “But he insisted he have the dogs sometimes too," she says. So, after much negotiation, they came to an off-the-books agreement: The pooches would commute back and forth with the kids. They’ve been doing that weekly shuffle for six years.
Pet sharing after a divorce makes some sense, particularly when you factor in the degree to which Americans are majorly, totally, butt-crazy in love with their domestic creatures. The average dog owner spends more than $1,000 a year on Fido, and those with more disposable income drop their animals off at day care, buy them BarkBoxes and health insurance, and snap little raincoats on them when it drizzles. According to a recent report, in 2018, pet spending in the U.S. hit a record $86.7 billion, nearly double what it was just 10 years ago.
Blame the boom on—who else?—millennials, who have fewer children than previous generations and own more animals. In fact, a full 75 percent of Americans in their thirties have dogs and 51 percent have cats, according to a 2016 report. To a generation that’s saddled with student loan debt and concerned about overpopulation, climate change, and the chemicals in American cheese, pets could represent a comforting, safe investment. But what happens when the pet is part and parcel of a household that finds itself upended by separation? A legitimate custody arrangement, in many cases.
Read more here.