In October 2023, the Supreme Court of Bogotá, Colombia, legitimised the concept of “multi-specific family” (i.e., that a companion animal can be considered as a member of the family and an important part of it). The decision was made after an assessment of conflict of jurisdiction that existed in two courts in Bogotá. A civil court and a family court were evading the responsibility of resolving the lawsuit filed by a man against his ex-partner, for not letting him see Simona, a dog that was part of the family, after they separated in 2021. The defendant woman believed that with the visits, the dog was negatively affected, emotionally.

The complaint began in October 2022 to the Third Family Court of Bogotá, which, on 6th December, argued that it was not competent to assume said case, and that the competence was of the civil courts of the circuit. On 27th April, the lawsuit remained in the office of the 27th Civil Court of the Circuit of Bogotá, and on 12th June 2023, it responded that this type of issues should go to family judges. Due to this conflict, it was up to the Supreme Court of Bogotá to resolve the case.

According to the Mixed Chamber of the Court, with a presentation by magistrate Carlos Andrés Guzmán and integrated by the magistrates José Alfonso Isaza and Ángela Lucía Murillo, “the animals ceased to be considered things, but they did not lose their property status within the legal system. They are now also identified as sentient beings to whom there are duties of special protection.” The magistrates concluded that the protection of the multi-specific family should take precedence, so a family court is competent.

The judges clarified that for animals to be part of a multi-specific family, two requirements must be met: that people recognise them as such and that the animals themselves assume roles in that family nucleus.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.