Co-ownership nightmare in Atlanta, Georgia! A dog breeder and family signed a co-owner contract that allowed a dog, Gracie, to live with the family as an emotional support pet, while the breeder retained competition and breeding rights for Gracie.
Later, the family left Gracie with the breeder while on vacation… and upon their return, were informed via text that they couldn’t have the dog back, due to the breeder’s suspicion that the dog had been abused. During Gracie’s stay, the breeder discovered marks on the dog’s neck, which she thought were signs of an improperly used prong collar. The family says the marks were due to the dog scratching at ear infections and skin inflammation (this is documented by several pages of veterinarian treatment), that they would never abuse such a “spoiled rotten” member of their family, and that the kids are utterly distraught. As this is a civil, not criminal dispute, most likely the contract would err on the side of what the breeder believes.
It should be noted that the vast majority of co-owner contracts work out well for owners and the animals, which is why they don’t make the news. And in this era of smaller homes and properties, where fewer dogs can be kept together, co-ownership can be a powerful tool for maintaining breed health and genetic diversity. But regardless of how this particular situation is resolved (or not), it serves as a reminder that co-ownership is not without risks. It is vital to know what’s in the contract you’re signing, and, as much as possible, to have a sense of the person with whom you are signing the contract.