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All Q&As
by
Elinor molbegott

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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
 
What can you do for an abandoned dog?
Q:

I work at a popular kennel in Connecticut, and as an animal lover I've been stuck between a rock in a hard place. Three months ago an 8 month old German Shepard was dropped of at the kennel. Since then, we've had pretty limited communication with the owners. They keep saying they are coming to pick him up, and they never do. My family and I are animal lovers, and would do anything to get this animal out of a cage before it permanently effects him for life. He's starting to look like he is slimming down, and he has very little strength considering he's been in a cage for so long. What can we do?

A:

First, I suggest that the dog get sufficient exercise, which would include taking the dog out of the cage and taking him for walks. If he appears ill, he should be taken to a veterinarian. Second, Connecticut law provides a mechanism for animals left at commercial kennels and veterinary hospitals to be deemed abandoned and placed for adoption. The law states, in part, that the kennels and veterinary hospitals “may transfer any abandoned animal in its custody to a nonprofit animal rescue or adoption organization which annually places ten or more animals in private homes as pets. An animal shall be considered abandoned if the owner or keeper of such animal fails to retrieve the animal within five days of the date on which such owner or keeper was scheduled to retrieve the animal. Prior to transferring such animal, such kennel or veterinary hospital shall give notice of its intention to do so to the owner or keeper at his last-known address by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, and shall allow a period of ten days to elapse after the receipt is returned before transferring such animal. Each such commercial kennel and veterinary hospital shall post in a visible location the procedures provided for in this subsection and shall give a written notice of such procedures to any person who boards an animal at such kennel or with such veterinary hospital. ...” I suggest that the kennel consult with an attorney in Connecticut to ensure that it satisfies the requirements of the law and to review the boarding contract (if any) signed by the parties. In the meantime, the kennel should ensure the well-being of the dog. It is legally required to do so.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can we get them back?
Q:

My roommate just moved away and took our two dogs. They were under her name but they were all of ours. She was always out or going out of town. We trained them and took care of them. There were so many times where she would leave to go out and not even check to see if they had food and water. Those dogs were our life and now she took them far away and to a place that is not at all in their best interest. Is there anything we can do?? Please help.

A:

These situations are often heartbreaking, but it is important to consider at the outset that roommate living arrangements do not usually last for the lifetime of the animal. These dogs are lucky to have so many people who love them. One can sue if he/she believes that his/her animal is being unlawfully withheld. Keep in mind though that a roommate who purchased or adopted a dog and then took the dog when he/she moved generally has a stronger “ownership” argument and a more winnable case than the other roommates, unless the animal had been given away, sold, or abandoned. Despite this general rule, there have been cases where the court awarded custody of an animal to the roommate who did not actually “own” the animal. For example, in a Virginia case the court awarded a cat, Grady, to the non-owning roommate based on the best interests of the cat. Ideally, all the individuals who care about “shared” animals would try to reach an agreement regarding visitation, animal-sitting, or shared custody. When animal custody disputes get acrimonious, shared arrangements are less likely to happen. Courts generally do not order visitation or shared custody, but they have in some cases.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Confined dog
Q:

I had put my dog in a fenced in area too go potty and get some exercise. I came back in my house too get a drink and opened my door too see the landlords girlfriend sticking her hands in the dog pen so i told my boyfriend what was going on and he went out. my dog was barking and his hair was standing up. he was backing away but she kept calling his name with her hand in the pen.he came forward sniffed her hand then bit.now i think she is trying to lawsuit on us.

A:

The dog bite laws in some states, including Michigan, hold dog “owners” responsible when their dogs bite regardless of whether the “owners” knew that their dogs had dangerous propensities. In other states, dog “owners” will generally not be held liable for injuries caused by their dogs unless the “owners” knew of their dogs dangerous tendencies (for example, the dog bit before). However, while these laws vary they (including Michigan's law) often contain language making it clear that dog “owners” will not be held liable if the dog was provoked or if the person bitten was illegally on the premises where the bite took place. 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Pet abandonment
Q:

Can a person be sued for pet abandonment?

A:

A person can be arrested for abandoning an animal. It is a crime. Abandonment is defined in Texas law to include “abandoning an animal in the person’s custody without making reasonable arrangements for assumption of custody by another person.” Depending on the circumstances, a person who abandons an animal can also be sued for money (such as when a person fails to retrieve his/her animal from a boarding kennel or veterinarian on the agreed upon date).


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
My boyfriend's dog was seized
Q:

Okay so me and my boyfriend have been having this pitbul together since he was 3 months . he has been spoiled and was and inside dog till we moved to a trailor . Well 2 days ago this female pitbul was on the loose on the street and she kept coming in our yard . so my boyfriend tied up his dog so he wouldnt go after her. So then that morning . we didnt sleep all night we feel asleep till like 9 am that was around the time we tied him up .. we fell asleep and totaly forgot he was tied up . he normallt runs around the yard . and so he tried to go chase the female dog  and he broke into the fence and scratched his face and so the time we were sleeping the dog pound came and alot of cops .. my bf is now being charge with animal cruelty ...  my question is is there any way I (Myself) would be able to get the dog back under MY responsibility as its owner . or What can i Do About It.. He Is Our Baby And i really want to get him back. please let me know ebery possible idea there is to do . thank you

A:

I am sorry to hear that your dog got injured, although it is important to understand that animals require humane shelter and care. Dogs require exercise, socialization, and the ability to move without continuous restraint. When chained, dogs can become anxious and aggressive. As you have seen, they can also get injured. The laws vary from state to state regarding forfeiture of animals who are seized due to suspected animal abuse/neglect. Some states, including Arizona, also have laws which may allow an animal to be forfeited before completion of the prosecution on the animal cruelty charges. More than one person, such as a “co-owner,” can be prosecuted for abusing/neglecting the same animal. I suggest that you and your boyfriend consult with a criminal attorney in your state regarding next steps. 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
My dog's rights
Q:

I recently got put in a situation where I had to find my dog a home while figuring out living situations. I asked a friend of mine and she said she would look after her we had a verbal agreement that she would take her over the weekend and see how it went for the both of us. I have contacted her several times asking for my dog back. What can I do? I just want my dog back.

A:

 An individual who believes his/her companion animal is being wrongfully withheld can commence a civil lawsuit for the return of the animal. One can also contact the police to allege pet theft although the police will often not intervene in situations involving pet “ownership” disputes arising out of a pet-sitting/possible re-homing arrangement.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Getting My Dog Back
Q:

In 2013 and living on Lana'i, my aunt was caring for my dog--- until we moved back home to O'ahu. She was not given dog. Because of allergies, she ended up giving her away to a girl who gave her away to another girl on a different island. She told me she couldn't hold dog anymore, but I believe miscommunication occurred about us taking her back. I didn't know any of the people involved who dog was given to. Since our move, I've tried contacting family on Lana'i for help, but no luck. I finally contacted the first girl who had dog. She refused to tell me who she gave dog to. With help from a social media post about dog, someone told me who really had her. It's been a year and a half and I finally found the girls name. My husband and I called them and I flew out to Maui to talk to them. They don't want to give dog back. What can I do?

A:

This poor dog. While it is difficult to predict how a court would decide a pet custody case (particularly since disputing parties often have different recollections of the facts), a court may determine that an animal left with a family member (or other person) and not retrieved in a timely manner was gifted or abandoned and that the pet-sitter had the legal right to re-home the animal. Courts would likely consider how long the animal was left, whether the animal’s “owner” paid for the animal’s care, visited the animal, or otherwise demonstrated any intention to retrieve the animal. Consider what is in the best interests of the dog. 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Does he even have rights after he abused the dog?
Q:

Last June 8th, I awoke to my neighbors dog trying to crawl through my ground floor window, she had front leg injuries. He was nowhere to be found at the time so I took her to the ER. A long story but it turned out that he gave the ER written permission to give me care over her, he had admitted to me that he threw her out his 3rd story window due to drugs and delusions. She has been living with me for the past 13 months and I have been taking care of her the whole time. She is part of my family, when I took her in it was with the understanding that she was not going to go back to the person who injured her in the first place. A few days ago he contacted me and wants her back, he is sicking a lawyer on me and I don't even know where to begin. Does he even have rights after he abused the dog?

A:

Laws often provide that persons convicted of animal abuse must forfeit the abused animal. Even without a conviction, a person may still forfeit rights to an animal, such as when there is evidence that he/she gave the animal away, abandoned the animal, or sold the animal.  Granting another person permission to assume care/expenses of an injured animal may be considered very solid proof that the animal was given away. The time lapse of more than a year before attempting to re-claim the animal would be further proof. Also, while courts do not always consider the best interests of the animal in pet custody disputes, they have done so particularly when it has been demonstrated that one party to the dispute has abused or neglected the animal.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Neglected Dog
Q:

I am watching a dog that belonged to my ex. He has been highly neglected in the last 4 years and now he has splayed/ deformed paws. Vet agreed he was neglected He has been in our possession for 3 months and we have been taking care of him. Now the ex wants him back to use him as a buddy dog to the dog that was harassing him. We want to legally keep him and treat him medically.  What are the steps?

A:

If one suspects animal neglect or abuse, law enforcement authorities should be contacted. Cruelty to animals is against the law in every state. When there is a dispute regarding an animal’s “ownership,” courts will consider many factors, including, for example, whether the animal was given away, abandoned, or sold. Sometimes courts will consider an animal’s best interests. When a person who has possession of an animal believes that he/she is entitled to keep the animal, it is often up to the person not in possession to commence the lawsuit to try to regain possession. The police usually do not intervene in pet custody disputes between ex-partners/spouses, but that depends on the facts and circumstances of each situation. 

 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Dog burial
Q:

My dog of 13 yrs was buried in my ex-boyfriend's mother's yard. How do I bring him to my home. This happened suddenly without any thought! I can't leave him there. Please help me!!!

A:

Ideally in this type of situation a mutually agreeable resolution would be able to be reached, which may entail removing the dog’s remains and paying for the cost to restore the lawn. However, if your ex-boyfriend and/or his mother consider themselves to be “owners” of the dog, they might not consent. Consider consulting an attorney in your area.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
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