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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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Can I keep my dog in my townhouse if I have a doctor's note?
Q:

I have a doctor's note form my doctor stating that I need my dog due to the fact that I'm paralyzed in one arm from a motorcycle accident. I'm buying a new townhouse in Indiana that has a weight limit and a breed restriction. Can I keep my dog?

A:

Housing providers must make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. Just this April, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a Notice regarding service and assistance animals for people with disabilities in housing. In that notice, HUD reiterated that “breed, size and weight limitations may not be applied to an assistance animal.” According to HUD, if the person seeking to keep the animal has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities and the animal works, provides assistance, or performs services for such person, OR provides emotional support that “alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of a person’s existing disability,” then the housing provider must make an exception to a “no-pets” rule or policy. There are limited exceptions to this rule for animals who pose a direct threat of harm to people or property but according to HUD, that assessment must be based on evidence about the specific animal’s actual conduct and may not be based on “mere speculation or fear.”


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
What do I do about my lost and found dog needing surgery?
Q:

My dog got off his leash and broke his collar. We put signs up everywhere and three days later a man called saying he found our dog. I called him back and he was very rude. He told me he took him to the vet and he needs surgery. The man called me names and told me that I'm responsible for every vet bill and if I didn't take care of my dog right it would be the last thing I would do. I spoke with the vet that has him and the vet thinks someone ran him over and now our dog has a broken leg and needs surgery. What do I do?

A:

I suggest you pay for your dog’s care. Your dog is your responsibility. I think you should also thank the man who found your dog and brought him to the veterinarian. If it wasn’t for him, your dog could have died.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can my friend get her dog back or can I adopt for her?
Q:

My friend gave her dog up years ago because she could not care for him. Now however, years later, she is stable and is able to have a dog financially. However, the rescue he has gone to now will not even talk to her because she asked about getting him back. Is there anyway she can get her dog back?? And is it illegal to adopt for someone else?

A:

When one gives a dog away, one generally has no further rights to that animal unless there is an agreement stating otherwise. Many shelters have adoption screening procedures and do not allow persons to adopt for another person. I hope the dog has a guardian who can provide him with a loving forever home.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
The vet changed our dog's operation - where do we stand?
Q:

Hi, I was just wondering where I legally stand. I took my dog to the vets and found out he had a dislocated knee cap on his left side as we had noticed limping and our dog seemed to not be comfortable on his left leg... Anyways, he went for the operation and everything went well and it wasn't until I got him home I realized he had been operated on his right knee! We immediately phoned our vet who apologized for not mentioning it when we collected him but said his right leg was worse and then said our dog would need the other leg done in the future! I feel he should have phoned me before doing the procedure as now I feel that he's only done the right leg (which had no signs of illness) so that we have to go back and have the poorly leg operated on.

A:

Every state has a veterinary licensing board. These boards can take disciplinary actions against veterinarians. In the United Kingdom, one should contact the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to file a complaint against a veterinarian. Individuals who believe a veterinarian committed malpractice or otherwise acted inappropriately may also sue a veterinarian. It is important to review veterinary records along with forms that may have been signed at a veterinary hospital. Sometimes these forms give veterinarians discretion during the course of performing veterinary procedures.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Who can I contact to check if my ex faked my dog's death?
Q:

I have an ex and his family that just posted on a social network that my dog has passed away. Him nor his parents haven't told me anything straight out but I find this strange since I was making arrangements to pick her up from their house recently, who can I contact to check on my dog to see if she has really passed on or what??

A:

Since you were making arrangements to pick up the dog from their house, why not contact them directly? The local animal control officer or humane society could also be contacted but it is not likely they would undertake an investigation based solely on the facts presented in your question. It is also unclear why the dog was with your ex and his family so the issue of who actually “owns” the dog could further complicate matters.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can I get my dog back?
Q:

I gave my my dog away two years ago due to the fact that I was moving to a new building that did not allow dogs. Now my building where I was living is done being renovated and I moved back. I have been crazy sick for my dog since I got rid of him and I really really want him now that I have moved back to my building. I am never going to move again and plan to stay here til I get a house.

A:

It would seem from your question that you no longer “own” the dog. When one adopts/purchases a companion animal, the commitment to that animal should be lifelong. It is very unfortunate that some landlords prohibit the keeping of pets, but people with pets need to make every effort to find pet friendly housing. I hope the dog is doing well in a forever home.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How can I get the seller to mail me papers for my purebred?
Q:

Hello,
I bought what is supposed to be a healthy purebred off of a family and paid $300.00. The owner was supposed to mail me the papers and now she is refusing. I also had taken the dog to my vet two days after I bought her and found out that she had a bad UTI, hook worm and also might need surgery for her shoulder. I would like to see if I could get my money back but the main thing I want is the papers.

A:

Pennsylvania’s pet sale law provides consumers with remedies if they purchase a sick dog from a licensed kennel or pet shop. Similar laws (sometimes referred to as puppy lemon laws) exist in several states. The provisions of these laws differ, with some applying to dogs and cats, others just to dogs. The amount of money one can get reimbursed for veterinary expenses to treat a recently purchased sick animal differs as does the amount of time consumers have to present the seller with proof that the animal was unfit for sale. These laws generally include provisions concerning the dog’s registration papers and provide for a refund of part of the purchase price if the papers are not provided to the purchaser within a specified time period. These laws can be restrictive, but consumers may also rely on other laws pertaining to the sale of goods generally (including animals) by merchants. However, the sale of sick animals by persons who do not fit within the various definitions of ‘merchant,’ ‘pet dealer,’ or ‘seller’ is not similarly regulated. When one purchases an animal from another individual and the animal is not in the condition as promised, the purchaser can sue. If there is a written contract and the contract was breached, certainly the case would be easier to win. When a case is based on a verbal agreement, often the parties have a different version of the agreement. I hope your dog gets better soon and is spayed.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
What are my options for the return of my stolen pet?
Q:

My pet was stolen by someone I know. Charges were filed and the person was arrested but the charges are going to be dismissed in 6 months and I still don't have my pet. What are my options?

A:

If the return of the animal is not part of the disposition of a case in criminal court, one would typically have to commence a civil action for the return of the animal. I suggest you ask the assistant district attorney who handled the matter if the state has taken or plans to take any action to have the dog returned to you as part of the disposition of the case.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Are we entitled to get our lost shelter dog back from its original microchip owners?
Q:

Hi my question pertains to my dog who we adopted from a shelter 3 years ago. Recently, he ran away, was found and scanned for his microchip (we didn't know original owners info was on it) and given back to original owners. Since he was at an animal shelter and we officially adopted him and have had him for 3 years, shouldn't we be entitled to get him back?

A:

Generally, when one adopts an animal from an animal shelter that has held the animal for the time period required by law, the adopter “owns” the animal, not the previous “owner.” However, if a microchipped dog was lost and ended up at a shelter and the shelter failed to check for the microchip prior to adopting out the animal, a court might be sympathetic to the person who lost the pet (not likely though if the dog was surrendered to the shelter by the "owner"). In Illinois, the law states that shelters must check for a microchip but the relevant laws in most other states are not as specific in large part because most of these laws were written long before microchipping was prevalent. Nevertheless, many laws, while not specifically mentioning microchips, require shelters to hold on to identified animals for longer than unidentified animals and to contact the “owners” of the identified animals. Many shelters check for microchips just as they do for tags, tattoos and other means of identification so that they can reunite animals with their “owners.” If you and the original “owner” cannot agree on custody, your option is to sue for the return of the dog. Courts will consider the evidence presented (not just the microchip) in determining who “owns” the dog now.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Do I have to pay the vet for unneeded treatments & surgery?
Q:

Took my pet to see the vet because he was sick. They did a Parvo test, it came back negative but treated him for it anyways. Then something was in his stomach that needed to be surgically removed. Did surgery but found nothing. Now vet is charging for a treatment he didn't need and for a surgery he didn't have to have. Now the vet is withholding my dog until I pay the bill. Should I have to pay for their malpractice and how do I get my dog back

A:

Every state has a veterinary licensing board. You can contact the Texas State Board of Veterinary Examiners to file a complaint and to get clarification about Texas’ law concerning veterinarians’ withholding of animals. The Texas Attorney General’s office issued an opinion several years ago regarding veterinarians’ withholding of animals. The Attorney General’s opinion states, in part: “… we have determined that a veterinarian may not hold an animal for nonpayment of fees if the owner demands his animal's return.” In this opinion, the Attorney General also references a specific Texas law pertaining to the abandonment of animals at veterinary facilities. This law provides that animals may be deemed abandoned if a veterinarian sends a certified letter to the client giving such person 10 days to retrieve his/her animal and such person does not do so by the 11th day after the date the veterinarian mails the notice. Most importantly, the Attorney General’s opinion states: “The statute does not specify that either payment or a promise to pay is a condition for retrieval during this period.”

The laws pertaining to the right of veterinarians to withhold animals for lack of payment vary from state to state. Pet ‘parents’ should be very careful since some states' laws provide that animals shall be deemed abandoned and may be given away or even euthanized if the pet ‘parent’ does not pay and retrieve the animal in a specified time period.

Also, one can sue a veterinarian for malpractice, negligence, or for other reasons. However, in order to prove veterinary malpractice, oftentimes one needs an expert witness who will testify that the veterinarian being sued acted below the professional standard of care required of competent veterinarians.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
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