Alaska Considers Animals’ Interests in Custody Cases

A new state law treats companion animals similarly to children in divorce custody proceedings.


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Under newly enacted legislation HB 147, courts in Alaska are now legally required to consider companion animal welfare. The bill is designed to protect animals during investigations of cruelty complaints and violations of protective orders, and would grant to animals similar status to that of children in divorce court. In the event of two partners splitting up, judges may grant joint custody if both parties are able to provide emotional and financial support to the animal. HB 147 does not specify which species of animals are protected, opening a discussion about whether rescued cows, chickens, pigs, and other traditionally farmed animals will receive similar legal protection to cats and dogs.