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Because it is a family conflict, the family commissioner Carlos Alberto Velásquez had to attend the unprecedented case at least in Medellín – of the divorced couple who wanted to determine who was left with the dog they had adopted in 2013 and to whom they should assign a home, because one of them is going to live in another city.
The story published on Blu Radio, concluded with the conciliation hearing, which was stipulated that she will be with the animal for two weeks, his ex-husband will have a week and are rotating.
In spite of the disagreements of both, what the ex-spouses did agree was that the one they had was a “multispecies family” and therefore the commissioner Velasquez had to make clear not only how long each one was going to be with the dog, but who was responsible for the costs of food, daycare, EPS, veterinarian, dentist and trainer of which enjoys this ‘dog-child’.
The precedent is important because it is estimated that 4 out of 10 Colombian households have a dog, a cat or another animal as a pet, in a market that moves 3 trillion pesos per year, which is why, in addition, the DANE included food for them as part of the family basket.
The separations or divorces of couples who share the upbringing of an animal of these could mean in the future that family police stations, such as Belén in Medellín, will be filled with these cases to define custody and the monthly fee.
However, the Colombian Family Welfare Institute puts a damper on these claims by clarifying that the Colombian legal system does not recognize “multispecies families”, despite the fact that in countries such as Spain and the United States, they are guaranteed by being formed by humans and also by animals.
“In the evolution we have made of the concept of family in Colombia, we have arrived at a diverse family, which is formed by homoparental couples, of equal adoption or by other members, such as grandparents, uncles and other relatives,” explains the director of the institute, Juliana Pungiluppi.
For Family Welfare, the fact that the Constitutional and Supreme Courts have concluded that animals are sentient beings and not only immovable property, does not imply that they are part of the family nucleus. “It is not comparable,” adds Pungiluppi, “with the idea of traditional or diverse families in which we only recognize human beings as members of them. The concept of multi-species families, which includes animals, is not regulated nor does it have jurisprudence in Colombia. “
Perhaps the only approach the Colombian State has had with this concept was in the Ministry of Housing, under the short administration of Camilo Sánchez, a recognized liberal leader who joined the animalist caucus when he was a senator. Last year, during the congresses of Camacol and Fedelonjas, the then minister proposed to the builders that the new houses and apartments in the country have spaces dedicated to pets, at the same time he asked that the urbanizations and condominiums in the country be more flexible to allow the animals to stay.
The denomination of “multispecies family”, however, is not far from the academic debate. For the animal group Defensores.co, this type of family “has its base in the construction of affective ties regardless of the species, a dog or a cat for example, that provide affection and in turn receive care and affection”.
For them, it is increasingly common that families, like the one that formed the couple from Medellín, treat an animal as if it were their son, “without anthropomorphizing it, respecting it in its specific animal essence”.
In response, Professor Luis Julián Salas, a sociologist at the University of Antioquia, believes that “the construction of affective ties is an important factor in the constitution and dynamics of a family, but this factor is not the only thing, because there are other determinants”.
Faced with the possibility that some couples without children assume that animals are, he concludes: “Animals are trained to achieve obedience, instead people are trained and educated for autonomy. One thing is duty-that the other does what you want-and another, very different, responsibility. “