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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
 
How can I get dog back from long-term pet sitter?
Q:

A friend agreed verbally to watch my dog while I was out of town for 4 months. Now that I've returned home she does not want to give me my dog back. Is there anything l can do?

A:

Individuals who believe that their animals are being wrongfully withheld can commence a civil lawsuit to try to get the animals returned (replevin action). People can also contact the police (although the police may not get involved unless they believe a criminal law has been violated, such as pet theft).


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Adopter refuses to pay.
Q:

I recently adopted out a dog to a man who gave me a great story and I foolishly believed him. Long story shor,t the rehoming fee was $180 and they signed a contract saying they would pay it today. They have blocked my calls. I know because I've called from another number. Is there anyway to recoup my money?

A:

People who believe they are due money can sue. Small Claims Court is a user friendly and inexpensive venue to try to resolve small monetary disputes.< /p>
Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott

Can previous owner take dog back?
Q:

I adopted 2 dogs 12/29 from a fb post that owner needs help and giving her 2 dogs away. Contacted her and I can take both to take care & love them. Going through grieving with my prev dog who passed Oct. Met them same night, she gave the dogs away, and I took them home. On 12/31 previous owner called taking back the dogs. What can I do? I am very distressed about this, I love the dogs.

A:

Generally when a person gives away his/her dogs, such person has no further rights to those animals, unless there was an agreement stating otherwise. Regrets do not equal rights.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Help give my dog his life back.
Q:

The City of Gurdon dog shelter has had my senior dog for months and won't give him back due to heart worms we had no idea about, but we take him to the vet when needed every time. The dog catcher of my town has had it out for my family and animals for years and would take our dogs and put them up for adoption knowing they are ours and have collars on. Now he has my family's dog of 15 years and says we have to pay about 600 dollars to get him back but we can't afford that and he's stuck in a small shelter scared! We're all he knows and loves and he doesn't have much time left but we can't figure out a way to get him bak home :( please help me and my family we love "Toby" so so much.

A:

I suggest that you try to borrow the money or quickly try to find a pro bono attorney (who will handle a case for free). Even if one can prove that an animal is being wrongfully withheld, the attorney�s fees and court costs could easily exceed $600. Also, these cases could take time.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Won't return lost dog.
Q:

My Yorkie went missing. I posted signs & rcvd a mess. from someone who said their brother found her & gave her to their Aunt. I'll admit my dogs hair was in dire need of grooming as well as her nails, but due to a new baby in the house, my out of state wedding & traveling for the holidays I did not have the time to get her rabies shot updated so we could get her to the groomer. The lady said they don't want to return the dog because of her condition when they found her. She is not malnourished, just in need of grooming. I have receipts to prove I paid well over $1000.00 for her. What can I do?

A:

People who believe that their animals are being wrongfully withheld can commence a civil lawsuit for the return of their animals or sue for monetary damages (such as for the cost of the dog). People can also contact the police. Before trying to have the dog removed from her current home, consider whether you really have the time to provide the dog with the care she needs. First, the dog went missing which can indicate that the dog was not being adequately supervised. Second, the dog was �in dire need of grooming as well as her nails.� Grooming is not only for cosmetic purposes. Failure to groom certain breeds and to have nails clipped can cause health problems, pain, and discomfort. I hope the dog is doing well.< /p>
Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott

Previous owners took dog back without refunding money.
Q:

So me, my partner, and brother-in-law went to pick an american bull dog up. Me and my partner paid £80 for her, and the following day they were asking for her back. My partner didnt have the chance to message back as he had to work, whilst my partner was in work they had gone to my brother-in-laws after contacting him about the dog to pick her up. We didn't tell my brother-in-law about paying for her as they were having financial struggles and really wanted a dog for his partner and their children. The previous owners had picked the dog up and not paid the money back. What can I do about this as my brother-in-law is devastated. Really, I would like her back.

A:

I suggest you consult with an attorney in your country. People who believe that their animal is being wrongfully withheld can sue to try to get the animal back. People can also sue for money if that is their preference.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How can we put dogs up for adoption if there is joint ownership with ex?
Q:

I have a question about custody, however it's a bit different than the typical inquiries. My boyfriend adopted dogs with his ex girlfriend. His ex refuses to leave us alone and uses the dogs to continue to be connected. She'll say she's going to come pick the dogs up and keep them but never follows through. She's been told repeatedly that he cannot keep the dogs but refused to sign paperwork surrendering them and refuses to take them herself. Unfortunately, she's a bit crazy and we cannot continue to handle this in the relationship. The dogs are suffering as well. What process does he need to go through (certified letters etc) where he can be able to put the dogs up for adoption? Currently rescues will not take the dogs due to her having part ownership of them. Would there be a process that we can take on as she refuses to be responsive?

A:

Yes, this is a not a typical inquiry. Most custody related questions involve people who both want the same animal. It is certainly a shame that your boyfriend�s dogs are suffering. After all, your boyfriend did adopt the dogs and should be providing the dogs with humane care, even if the co-owner is not doing her part. Hopefully this situation can be worked out amicably but, if not, I suggest that your boyfriend consider retaining an attorney in his state who may be able to commence a legal proceeding for a declaratory judgment (asking the court to declare the rights of the parties). In the meantime, provide the dogs with a loving home. Failure to do so not only is inhumane but may also violate animal cruelty/neglect laws. Good luck!


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Who is responsible for cat bite after cat was given away?
Q:

I gave away a kitten with the areement I would take her back. Within a few hours she had bitten them. The police say I am responsible. How can this be true? at the time of the bite she was their cat.

A:

It is unclear why the police would be involved as this does not appear to be a criminal matter. Generally, a person who gives away his/her animal is not responsible for an animal bite that occurs after the adoption. However, if a person knows that an animal has a biting history (not including teething which is common with kittens and puppies) and fails to disclose it or lies about it to the adopter, a court might hold otherwise.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
What did friends do with dog they adopted from us?
Q:

We needed a good home for our dog. Gave him to some friends who wanted him just to find out they got rid of him. We asked where he went out of concern and they refuse to tell us anything. We are hoping they didnt drop him off somewhere. What can we do? We are thinking the worst.

A:

Generally when a person gives his or her animal away, such person has no further rights to that animal (unless there was an agreement stating otherwise). That would include no further rights to find out where the animal was later re-homed.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Former foster refuses to return dog to Rescue.
Q:

One of our volunteers is fostering one of our Rescue's dogs. She has failed to respond to the 20 approved applicants interested in this dog. She finally responded to us that she is no longer interested in working with our Rescue organization. We asked her if she will chose an adopter from the many applicants, or adopt this dog herself and she will not respond. We have been covering all this dog's medical bills, and the dog has been listed on Petfinder under our name for months. As a registered charity devoted to saving dogs, we prefer not to spend money on lawyers. What are our options? This is NYS - will the police help? It's essentially theft, is it not?

A:

The police will typically not get involved in pet fostering and pet custody disputes. New York's animal stealing law (section 366 of the Agriculture and Markets Law) covers situations such as enticing or seizing animals out of their homes or enclosures or from a person. When the police will not intervene, people can commence a civil action for the return of an animal they believe is being wrongfully withheld. Although it is preferable to have attorney representation in these cases, it is not required. Court clerks are sometimes very helpful. Of course, in order to prove that a person is wrongfully withholding an animal, a written agreement specifying the rights and obligations of the parties would be useful. Often when there is only a verbal agreement, the disputing parties have different versions of the agreement.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
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