Couples frequently use a dog as a way to deepen their relationship, and treat the experience like a starter child. But when the relationship ends, what do you do about the dog?

Well, luckily I have a new book coming out which deals with pets and separations. If you’ve ever loved a dog, and had to give it up because you no longer loved the person you shared the dog with, this book is for you. It will show you how to develop a plan to share custody.

Lots of people think I’m nuts, but the reality is that as more and more of us forgo procreating, we adopt animals, and those animals become our children. They are treated to gourmet food, the best medical care that is available, they have groomers and daycare. Pets are a multi-billion dollar industry devoted to making sure that today’s domesticated animals, whether they be dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and some undomesticated but popular choices like pythons, parrots, and iguanas, receive the care that is better than most Americans get.

We have excellent veterinarians in this town, devoted to pet care. My dog goes to Wilshire Animal Hospital for most of his care. This is the place where he gets his teeth cleaned, his annual physical, his emergency care for when he decides to wolf down a chocolate covered protein bar or gets stung by a bee and his muzzle swells up.

When it comes to exercise, we have dog parks all over town. From the edge of the Santa Monica/Los Angeles border at the Santa Monica Airport, to almost on the beach at Main and Bay streets. There are easily over a dozen different people and companies who make sure that your dog can be walked on a daily basis. I did a search on the Internet and found multiple facilities that are devoted to exercise and grooming in town. My friend, Jonathan Klein, who was voted Los Angeles’ best dog trainer by LaCityVoter, has a new facility in West Los Angeles. His new facility has training and boarding in a brand new, 5,000-square-foot facility. You can check it out at

If your dog is a bit of a handful and has some behavioral problems that you want to address, the other great trainer around here is Colleen Steckloff, who has worked with many different problems. She’s at Her reputation is stellar for working with dogs that need one-on-one training. She worked with actress Kathy Griffin (Hey girl!) and her dog Pom Pom, when there were some issues.

For grooming, I’ve taken my dog to a couple of different places, but the one that I go back to time and again is Pet Affaire on Lincoln. They’re super-friendly, and consistently good. Barky, that’s his nickname, doesn’t particularly like being groomed, I’m not sure any dog does, but at least I know he’s well taken care of and comes out looking and smelling like a million bucks.

The pet industry’s size and growth over the years is an indicator of two things to me, one that we may be raising our awareness of how we treat animals overall. That’s probably not a bad thing, though a bit goofy at times. Two, that more and more of us are choosing not to have kids, which is a great thing on a global scale.

Or we could just be obsessive over a dog, because we’re redirecting our parenting drives into an animal. But either way they are fun, and they give us so much back in terms of love and devotion, which is why we get so attached to them. And that is the underlying purpose of my new book. When we get attached to the dog, we don’t want to let go of that source of love and affection, even if the relationship with the ex ends, we still want to share the pet. My book will be available soon on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, once the launch party is locked down, I’ll announce it and you’re all invited.


 David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at or (310) 664-9969.

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