Custody cases involving pets are on the rise across the United States.
In a 2006 survey by the 1600-member American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a quarter of respondents said pet custody cases had increased noticeably since 2001. The academy is due for another survey, but there is no doubt such cases have grown steadily since then, said Ken Altshuler of Portland, Maine, a divorce lawyer and AAML president.
If there is a child involved in a divorce, many judges will keep the pet with the child, lawyers said.
"But what do you do when the pet is the child?" Mr Altshuler asked.
Breakups in same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships are among reasons pet custody fights have become more common, lawyers said.
Pet consultant Steven May hired Mr Pisarra six years ago to handle his divorce. Besides a daughter, May and his ex worked out custody of three dogs, two cats and Tequila the parrot.
Mr Pisarra and Mr May became good friends and often take their dogs for walks in Santa Monica. They also teamed up last year to write a book about co-parenting a pet with an ex titled "What About Wally?"
Pets are considered property in every state in America. For years, they have been divvied up like furniture during divorce proceedings. But times are changing.
"Judges are viewing them more akin to children than dining room sets. They are recognising that people have an emotional attachment to their animals," Altshuler said.
"There is a shifting consciousness," Mr Pisarra said. "Pets are being given greater consideration under the law."