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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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Does my daughter's boyfriend have any rights to dog he gave as a gift?
Q:

Hello, my daughters boyfriend bought her a boxer with no paperwork about 3 years ago and has been living with us for most of that time (all 3 of them), which has made me the caregiver for this dog since I'm a housewife and home all the time. My daughter works full time and as of last October her boyfriend has been in jail and gets out in April. She has since broke it off with him and he is trying to get his dad to come take the dog away from her, which to me seems like he's trying to punish her for breaking it off. My husband and I have paid all the medical bills for the dog including a very expensive neutering beacause he was full grown before they would do it. We have 2 Boston's of our own and their dog is very comfortable here with all of us. Does the boyfriend have the right to take him away seeing he hasn't really been there at all to take care of him. I have all the paperwork from the vet. He is a boxer name Cuba and he is just the best dog around and it would kill us to see him go to the boyfriend's dad especially since we know that they don't treat him very kindly. What can we do and does he have any rights over the dog?

A:

Usually when an animal is given to someone as a gift, the person giving the gift has no further rights to the animal. If the case is litigated (for example, the ex-boyfriend sues to get the animal), the courts, based on the evidence, would consider whether or not the dog was given as a gift or was abandoned. In making its determination, the court may consider such factors as where the animal has been living and for how long, who has been the animal’s primary caretaker, and who has been paying for the animal’s food, veterinary care, and other necessities.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can I get a dog back that I have rehomed?
Q:

I rehomed a dog to my neighbor and her boyfriend. She is no longer there and I have a key so the dog is taken care of. I bathe him, walk him, and cut his nails because the boyfriend isnt doing it. Do I have any legal right to take him back?

A:

When one gives a dog away, such person usually has no further rights to the dog, unless there was an agreement stating otherwise. Sometimes an individual who doesn’t make the time to care for his/her animal may be willing to give away or sell the animal, although it is unclear from your question if the neighbor (who moved and may have cared for the dog) intends to return for him.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
What rights do I have to get dog back from rescue group?
Q:

I was detained by police in March '14 and no charges were filed. My dog was taken to the pound where her microchip went back to RG(rescue group). I rescued her Aug '12 and they never bothered to complete paperwork or adopt fee because and I quote"so happy she found the perfect home the papers didn't matter to me". Now they are holding my dog saying she's not adoptable and waiting until I'm in better head space. I'm 100% fine so who gives her the right to decide when that is or the legal right to hold my baby girl? I want her back, she's a good girl, is deaf and a beautiful white Bull Terrier. I've spent over 20k on my last three dogs health in 2 years before they passed. Never have I not had a dog to care for. I feel a little lost. What legal recourse do I have or what should I do? I went to file a judgement but it takes time, in which I'm hoping there's not a legal time period they have her and default my rights to her. Please help, please. Thank you, and I love your work!

A:

The mission of rescue organizations is to find safe and humane homes for homeless animals. Therefore, it is not surprising that a rescue group would be concerned when an animal it placed for adoption or foster care ends up at a pound. If you cannot quickly resolve this matter with the rescue group and you want to try to get the dog returned, I suggest you retain the services of an attorney in your state. An attorney may seek an injunction to prevent the adoption of the animal to another person during the pendency of the lawsuit. Once an animal is adopted to another person, getting the animal returned can be more difficult. Without adoption papers, it may be hard to establish that an animal was actually adopted and not simply temporarily fostered. However, if litigated, other evidence would likely be presented, which may include testimony and written documentation regarding the rescue’s normal adoption and foster care procedures and policies. 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Is it too late to get my dog back?
Q:

My ex and I broke up over a year ago. Entering the relationship I had a dog. A dog that I had since the day he was born since my sister's dog gave birth to him and I was living with her. We signed a lease agreement of a year for an apartment. I paid for the pet rent and pet deposit. Im sure I would be able to get proof of payment under my name if need be. I have all his shot records and proof he was neutered under my name and bank information. It has been over a year and my ex and his mother are refusing to let me have my dog back. I'm just not sure what to do because it has been so long. I was forced to move out of the apartment as my ex was very abusive and I was scared for my own well being. They agreed to watch him until I found a new place to live as I was staying with my mom, and dogs aren't allowed in her apartment. Once I found a place they wouldnt give him back and I didnt have any proof at the time. Please help me get my dog back. I dont know where to go or what to do.

A:

One can bring a civil lawsuit to try to get an animal returned. Consult with an attorney in your state. The police usually will not get involved in pet custody disputes between people who lived together.  Generally if a person adopts or purchases an animal prior to marriage, such person is the animal’s ‘owner.’ However, there are many exceptions to this general rule, including, for example, if the animal was subsequently given as a gift to another person or abandoned.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How can I keep my ex from taking my dog?
Q:

My now recent ex boyfriend of almost 4 years left me in October of 2013 via moving van while I was at work and left our pit bull behind, which is fine due to the fact I was the only one involved with raising him. Since then (currently March 2014) he has made no attempt to see him or help financially, but has texted a mutual friend that he is moving to L.A. and wants to take my dog.  How do I prevent this from happening? My dog is all I have left of everything he took.

A:

It is unclear who owns or leases the apartment or house where you and the dog are living.  Oftentimes, people change locks so that unauthorized people cannot gain access. I suggest you safeguard your dog to prevent theft.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
What are our legal rights to this dog?
Q:

My dads girlfriends sister was kicked out of her house and could not take her dog where she was moving into so we agreed to look after the dog. Since then she has moved away to California (we live in Arizona) and now she has move to Alaska. She says she finally is living in a place where she can have the dog. We have had this dog for over 2 years now and have fallen in love with it. She has become a part of our family. Not to mention she is almost 13 which is old for a German Shepard. She is also deathly afraid of loud noises and Thunderstorms which an airplane would not be an easy trip for her to Alaska. What kind of rights do we have to the dog?

A:

While it is often difficult to define one’s rights in pet custody disputes, a court could decide that an animal’s ‘owner’ abandoned or gave away the animal if the animal was left in someone else’s care for a long time (and two years is a long time), particularly if that ‘original owner’ has not paid for the animal’s care during this time period. Worth noting is a NY case involving the custody of an older cat, where the appellate court stated, “…we think it best for all concerned that, given his limited life expectancy, Lovey, who is now almost ten years old, remain where he has lived, prospered, loved and been loved for the past four years.” I hope this all works out well for the dog, who deserves to live out his life with love and security.


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

My ex and I split the cost and bought a dog together from a friend. The dog was under my name at our vet. When we broke up, after a long day of arguing he kept the dog. Now we are getting together and he told me his mom came into his house (he lives alone) and took the dog and her belongings. After getting in contact with his mother she told me she gave the dog to some lady, and the lady gave the dog to a guy. The guy didn't want her to stay in contact with the dog. Now my ex and I are figuring out what to do because his mother does not know where the dog is and all we have is the ladies name and number. We want to get our dog back and need to know what action to take. We believe if the cops call the lady she will tell them who has our dog. All we want is for the cops to go with us and tell the man he has to give us our dog back.

A:

The police usually will not get involved in pet custody disputes. While the police will sometimes get involved when pet theft is alleged, the man who has the dog did not steal the dog and neither did the lady who gave him the dog.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Pet Liability Insurance in NY
Q:

I am a real estate agent on long island. I get calls everyday from people who own pitbulls, rotties, dobermans, etc. looking for a rental. As you know landlord policies, renters and homeowner insurance policies will not write if you have a pitbull (among other breeds). My question is: Is there a company in NY that one can purchase a separate pet liability policy naming their landlord as an additional insured? Perhaps this would open the door to more possibilities for these people and less pitbulls being given to shelters by responsible owners due to no other choice. I have to tell people with pitbulls that I cannot help them because I know nobody wants a pitbull. Breaks my heart because I know they can be excellent dogs. I've found a company on the internet, but it's only for CA state. Would you know of any for NY that will write pet liability policies?

A:

While we cannot endorse any particular insurance company or broker, we are aware that the Animal Farm Foundation, Inc. provides information on its website (www.animalfarmfoundation.org under Resources for Dog Owners) about insurance companies that may provide coverage for pit bulls and other breeds. Also, the Lester Kalmanson Agency (www.lkalmanson.com) provides dog liability insurance. There is legislation pending before the NYS Legislature to prohibit insurers from canceling or refusing to issue or renew insurance policies based upon the keeping of specific dog breeds, but thus far the bills have not passed.
 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How do I get my dog back from Grandmother?
Q:

When I moved to Vegas in 2010, my grandma offered to take in 3 dogs that we at the time could not bring with us. After a year, one of the dogs have already died, but were able to bring them back in our home. Well, my grandma is now saying they are hers and she won't give them back. I bought the Pomeranian, Max, when I was just a kid with my own earned money. Dogs do not live long at her house, as I said one had already died and now the other has eye and heart problems. I need to know how to get my dog back because it kills me everyday knowing she has him and he thinks I have abandond him even though for 3 years I've been asking for him back

A:

I hope you and your grandma can work out a pet custody arrangement that is in the dogs’ best interests. A lawsuit can be commenced if one believes that his/her animal is being wrongfully withheld. However, when an animal is voluntarily left with another person for a significant time period a court could decide (depending on the facts of each case) that the animal was given away or abandoned (particularly if the person seeking to have an animal returned has not paid for the animal’s food, veterinary care, grooming, etc. while in another person’s care).


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can someone force me to spay the dog?
Q:

I was just wondering if someone can force you to spay a dog after you purchase it from them.

A:

It depends on the terms of the sale or adoption contract. Please note that spaying and neutering help to curb the serious dog and cat overpopulation problem and also provide health benefits to animals.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
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