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All Q&As
by
Elinor molbegott

Great tips and advice from the Animal League Experts.

Below are Q&As on all topics that relate to cats or dogs. Not what you're looking for? Use the form below to change your criteria, or submit your question to one of our experts.

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Legal Category
 
Does abandoned dog belong to Humane Society?
Q:

My brother in law found a dog who was abandoned. He located owner, and told him she no longer wanted the dog. Can animal control come take the dog after he has already become attached, and has given her a safe and loving home with his other dog who has also become attached? Animal control claims the dog belongs to the humane society.

A:

Some animal adoption agreements provide that if the adopter no longer wishes to keep the animal, the adopter must return the animal to the humane society that adopted out the animal. Despite these provisions, typically the humane society or animal control officer would not have the right to simply remove the animal from the third party (person who the adopter gave the animal to or otherwise allowed to keep the animal). Often, new adopters can work out an arrangement for transfer of name with the humane society. If the humane society is not satisfied with such an arrangement, it has the option to sue (but often does not unless there is genuine concern that the animal is being neglected or abused in the new home). I suggest that your brother-in-law consult with an attorney in his area who, hopefully, can resolve this situation in the animal's best interests.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Do I have to take dog back?
Q:

Hello, I had to give my Dog away because I could no longer take care of the dog or afford the care for the dog. A very nice family came over and loved the dog and they accepted the dog and said they enjoyed him. Now 2 1/2 weeks later they want to give the dog back. They say because he bit their neighbor. I do not believe that as the dog has never bit anyone before unless they were really messing with him. Do I have to take the dog back as I cannot afford to. Thanks.

A:

Generally a person who gives his/her animal away has no further legal rights or obligations with respect to the animal.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Is it animal abuse if the dog spends it's life in a kennel?
Q:

I work at a kennel, and there are several dogs there that we have from a rescue. We are not allowed to play with these dogs, walk them or anything. They stay in the kennels inside or outside. That's it. If the dog has no chance to be adopted out, and lives its life in a kennel forever, is it animal abuse? It seems like it to me.

A:

Maryland’s animal abuse/neglect law provides, among other things, that a person who has “charge or custody of an animal” may not “unnecessarily fail to provide the animal with nutritious food in sufficient quantity, necessary veterinary care, proper drink, air space, shelter, or protection from the weather.” Sometimes the failure to provide a good life for an animal does not fall within the scope of the animal cruelty laws. When animal neglect/abuse is suspected, local law enforcement authorities should be contacted. Some rescues take animals who would otherwise be euthanized and place them in kennels while they try to find good homes for the animals. Have you considered speaking with a representative from the rescue group to find out what their plans are for these dogs?


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can I sue the people I gave my dog to for abandoning him?
Q:

Can I sue the people I gave my dog to for abandoning him ? Yesterday night I got a call from a lady miles away from where I live saying they found my dog. The new owners abandoned him and when I called to ask if he has escaped they lied and said the dog was with them. The day I gave my dog to the new owners I gave them a lot of stuff so that he would be well taken care of.

A:

Animal abandonment is against the law. Animal abandonment complaints should be made to the police, SPCA, and any other entities in the state with authority to enforce animal abuse laws. Generally a person who gave away his/her animal has no further claim to the animal and would likely not be entitled to any compensation if the animal were subsequently abandoned or mistreated.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
As the primary caretaker, can my ex sell our Yorkie without consent?
Q:

My now ex boyfriend bought me a yorkie terrier as a gift. He put himself as the owner just so that he can take her to shows and get money. He put me down as co-owner. Now we are going through a break up and he wants to take her away from me because he knows that I will be devastated. I feed her, bathe her, trained her, I do everything for her. I want to know since I am co-owner of the dog and the primary caretaker, do I have any rights? can he just take her and sell her without my consent?

A:

When animals’ co-owners split and cannot agree on custody of their shared animals, sometimes these cases are litigated and the courts have to decide who gets to keep the animals. Since these cases get much more complicated if the animals have already been given away, I suggest you consult with an attorney in your state who can advise you on next steps to try to prevent the sale or other disposition of the dog and to try to get possession of the dog, if you currently don’t have possession.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Rescue put down kitten without cause.
Q:

I took my kitten to the animal rescue league here in Mississippi and I asked if I could re-adopt him when I was able to. I was told I could. I went the next day to check on the kitten and they had put him down with no explanation. The guy said when I signed the forms I was giving him back to them. So they could do what they saw fit. Can something be done about this?

A:

I am so sorry to hear about the kitten. Generally when a person surrenders an animal such person has no further rights to the animal. Most animal shelters have active adoption programs and also work with rescue groups and foster care “parents” to increase adoptions. However, while many animal shelters, including North Shore Animal League America, are “no –kill,” some animal shelters, particularly those that accept all animals brought to them regardless of the animals’ health or temperament or space at the shelter, euthanize animals. It is a very tragic situation. If more people adopted, rather than purchased animals from pet stores and breeders, more lives would be saved.​


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Kitten died from FIP and Pet Store will not give refund.
Q:

We purchased a Persian kitten from a pet store and 4 months later the kitten died. The emergency Vet we took our kitten to thought it was a "normal" respiratory issue when we first arrived, but 3 days later he was dumbfounded as he had to euthanize my kitten. After we went over the symptoms again, he said my kitten had to have died from FIP. I spoke to the pet store after reading the 14 day warranty that states that the kitten is to be from FIP (among other viruses), and was told they never actually tested the kitten for FIP. Pet store is refusing to work with me on the purchase, refund or providing store credit. Should I contact an attorney. I know I am past the 14 days, however, they never tested for FIP and the kitten could not have contracted the virus while in my care as FIP is contracted cat to cat contact with feces and saliva. Its just me and my fiance with out kitten. ​

A:

I am very sorry to hear about your loss. Florida’s pet sale law provides that each cat offered for sale must have received certain vaccines and deworming treatment prior to sale and that “A pet dealer may not knowingly misrepresent the breed, sex, or health of any dog or cat offered for sale within the state.” The pet sale law further provides that its provisions do not “limit the rights or remedies that are otherwise available to a consumer under any other law.” Even if consumers do not make a timely claim under their state’s pet sale law, they may have rights under other laws, such as the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). The UCC provides remedies to people who purchase goods (including animals) that are unmerchantable (unfit for sale). Individuals who cannot reach a satisfactory settlement with a pet dealer can sue. It may be difficult to win a case when an animal did not show evidence of a virus until several months after purchase.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Is it against the law to lock a dog in a garage?
Q:

Is it against the law to lock a dog in a garage ?

A:

Ohio’s animal cruelty law provides, in part, that it is unlawful to “Deprive the companion animal of necessary sustenance, confine the companion animal without supplying it during the confinement with sufficient quantities of good, wholesome food and water, or impound or confine the companion animal without affording it, during the impoundment or confinement, with access to shelter from heat, cold, wind, rain, snow, or excessive direct sunlight, if it can reasonably be expected that the companion animal would become sick or suffer in any other way as a result of or due to the deprivation, confinement, or impoundment or confinement in any of those specified manners.” The law also provides that it is unlawful to neglect a companion animal or to commit any act which causes unnecessary or unjustifiable pain or suffering. Law enforcement officers would need to assess the particular situation in each instance to determine whether the cruelty laws are being violated.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Surrendered dog after mean boy let him out of yard.
Q:

A 13yr old boy let my dog out of my fence then called animal control saying my dog was loose. I paid fine and surrendered him. Can I get him back? I was in shock when I surrendered him. I did it same day he was taken. The boy told my sister what he had done. I'm going to say I have him on video to try and get him to admit it, but I have been sick to my stomach from stress, cant sleep or eat. My son is stressed, he's only 11. My dogs brother is stressed. The boy told my sister it was because he didn't want me to have the dog. He and his brother were treated, well always taken care of, up to date on shots. The boy is just mean. Anything I can do? If I get him on my camera in yard admitting it will that work? I really want my dog, we love him so much. I wasn't thinking when I surrendered him. Dog is being killed on 27th. I cant stand it. I have 3 sons, my human 1 and my dogs. Please help.

A:

I am so sorry to hear of your ordeal. I suggest that you immediately retain an attorney in your area. Perhaps an attorney can get a court order to stop any planned euthanasia or intervene and convince animal control to act more humanely. Typically when a person surrenders his/her animal to a shelter, such person has no further rights to that animal. Even if one could prove that an animal ended up at a shelter due to someone else’s misconduct, that misconduct would not necessarily overturn a subsequently signed surrender agreement. In any event, perhaps reason will prevail and at least the dog will not be killed. ​Good luck.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can my Ex give away my cat if I don't remove it from former home?
Q:

I am currently not 100% living at my house due to a domestic issue with my roommate/former fiance. The house is currently for sale. He has a cat of his own, as I have one as well. My cat is currently staying at the house because I cannot move completely out until the house sells. He is now saying that if I don't come get my cat, he is going to take him to a shelter. Can he legally give my cat up without my permission?

A:

I suggest that if you want your cat you immediately get your cat, and make other arrangements for his care. A court might consider that by leaving the cat in the house and then failing to retrieve the cat when given the opportunity to do so, you relinquished ‘ownership’ of the cat. In any event, by the time a court heard such a case your cat could be long gone.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
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