Custody decisions for pets can be tricky business. For instance, how do judges determine who gets custody of the family dog when “I do” turns into “I can’t”? One scientific researcher who studies dog preferences has a recommendation: When dogs are caught between choosing which person to live with, judges should not rely on the dog’s preference. Why? Because dogs, like people, may have competing preferences.
“Placed in a situation and forced to choose one or the other, they may adopt any number of strategies that have nothing to do with their true preferences. They may go to the largest thing; they may always go left or right; or they may just stick with the first thing they chose even if the other option might be better. The MRI data opened a window into the dogs’ minds without forcing them to make a choice.
For all of these reasons, judges faced with determining pet custody should resist the temptation to simply let the dog choose.”
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