A court in the western city of İzmir issued a landmark verdict and granted alimony to the dog of a divorced couple.
Married for five years, the couple identified only with their initials as P.D.Y. and İ.Y., applied to the Family Court in İzmir for divorce. They told the court that they agreed their Maltese Terrier named "Papyon" (bow tie) would stay with the wife after the divorce. The court approved to grant custody and ordered the husband to be granted the right to visit the dog two weekends a month. He was also ordered to pay an alimony payment of TL 200 ($33) to the wife for the care of the dog.
Animals are seen as a commodity under Turkish law, to the challenge of animal rights activists who decry the lack of prison terms for crimes against animals due to the laws. The ruling sets the precedent for the classification of animals as living beings like humans rather than commodities. The court said in its verdict that the couple had emotional ties to the animal, "like parents to a child," and banning custody for either the wife or husband would affect them. Gonca Arkoç from İzmir Bar Association, said it was "good news" that the judges issued such a ruling despite the lack of a legal definition regarding pets in Turkish Civic Code. "We hope it will be an example for other judges handling similar cases," she said.
Another court in İzmir's Çeşme district has denied the right for a husband to visit his dog in a similar earlier case, citing the lack of legal regulation on the matter.