Lifestyle Pets Judge in Spain Grants Couple Joint Custody of Their Dog, Panda, in Rare Ruling The judge's ruling takes a clear stance that pets should be considered living beings under the law, as opposed to property By Katie Campione Katie Campione Digital News Writer, PEOPLE People Editorial Guidelines Published on October 28, 2021 10:31PM EDT Share Tweet Pin Email A separated couple in Spain were reportedly awarded joint custody of their dog, Panda, in a rare court ruling earlier this month. The man and woman went to court to determine who would get ownership of their Border Collie following their split after a 20-month relationship, according to court documents obtained by Spain's RTVE. The judge determined that each person should be "jointly responsible" and "co-caretakers" for Panda, awarding them both custody of the dog. The ruling states that the dog will alternate households each month, RTVE reports. The judge's ruling takes a clear stance that pets should be considered living beings under the law, as opposed to property. According to BBC, the ruling states that "the evidence in the proceedings reveals an affective relationship between the plaintiff and the dog that is worthy of legal guardianship." Getty Attorney Lola García brought the couple's case to court under the 1987 European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals. The law was ratified in Spain in 2017, The Washington Post reports. Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. García told the newspaper she used veterinary bills, Panda's adoption contract, and photos of the couple with their dog as evidence. "What is novel is to be able to use the convention to avoid having to define the pet as a shared thing or property and instead to focus on the animal's welfare, the emotional bond and the shared responsibility of taking care of an animal, beyond the pet being considered a property," García told The Post. García added, "There's an emotional bond that the justice system needs to recognize."