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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
 
Can I get my lemur back?
Q:

I was having trouble with my lemurs aggressive behavior and asked my vet for help. he got me in touch with what i was told was his exotic pet rescue partner and they have other lemurs that she would be with. after i let them take her i found out my vet doesnt have part ownership and they dont have other lemurs. they said i cant visit her and I want her back and they said thats not an otion what are my rights,help!!!

A:

Lemurs should not be kept as pets. They are wild animals. If you have concerns regarding the facility where the lemurs are being kept, I suggest you contact your local humane society, SPCA (society for the prevention of cruelty to animals) and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Generally when an individual gives away his/her animals, he/she has no further rights to the animals. 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
I was promised a puppy for studding.
Q:

some neigbors saw my fawn cheweenie and wanted him to mate with thier  mini dusand he said I could have two puppies and pick of litter  . so we did we even have pics of them  locked and mated  we did it 2 times .well he came over told me she had 5 puppies  . we went over see them she had a pure white they said they was keeping then she had a blue they said they was keeing i said  all i want is a lil female  . the wife said they was all the puppes was given away  . but the husband  let me pick one female out  .  we went today to get out puppy the wife said  the girls was all gone all left was the blue and the white and they was thiers . she offered me 50 gollars for using my male  . but i was promised a puppy not one but two and pick of litter but i just wanted a lil female  .now she told me leave not come back the puppies was gone but what they kept  , can i take them small clamis court i have  witnesses of the aggreement and pictures they mated our doig since he a rare gold eye fawn he made two rare pure white and blues for then

A:

Small Claims Court is a user friendly and inexpensive way to resolve relatively small monetary disputes. The judge will decide the merits of the case based on the evidence presented. Rather than breeding your dog, I suggest you have him neutered. There is a tragic overpopulation of dogs and cats. Spaying and neutering also provide health benefits.

 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Is it safe to say that the horse is mine?
Q:

In 2009 a client purchased a racehorse off the track. She was not old enough to sign as the purchaser, so I did. He has since been in my name legally on his registration papers. 2 1/2 years ago she left for nursing school through the army, and I began training him again. Her mother was paying the bills for him, but not paying for his training. Eventually it turned into me paying half the bills and now all of them. Where he is still legally in my name (with the exception of his vet records) and I've been caring for him and paying bills, is it safe to say that he is mine? I didn't begin paying all the bills by choice, they have been nonexistent for the last 4 or 5 months and the credit card can no longer be processed. 

Thank you for any advice or info you can provide.

A:

When people share an animal’s expenses and enter into convoluted arrangements (one person signs as the purchaser but another person pays for the animal), it is not “safe to say” that only one of the individuals involved in this transaction is the animal’s “owner.” That would be up to a court or up to the individuals to enter into an agreement wherein one individual relinquishes rights. Otherwise, “ownership” remains unclear.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Is there anything legally that can be done about my pet sitter?
Q:

Hi, I hired a pet sitter for 9 days while we were on vacation. I have 4 cats and a 200 lb. St. Bernard. He is elderly. When we came home we found that the pet sitter had not fed our dog appropriately. He gets 8 cups of food a day, and she had only been giving him one can of tuna per day. We found his food in the trash can that she had tried to hide. He lost so much weight in the 9 days that his ribs are showing. She also had not fed any of the cats and they had no water in their feeders and we have had 100 degree temps. Is there anything legally that can be done?

A:

Animal neglect/abuse complaints can be made to local animal control, the sheriff, and the police. In some states, societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCA) and humane organizations also enforce animal cruelty laws. Cruelty to animals is against the law in every state. A pet “owner” can also sue a pet sitter for monetary damages (veterinary bills, for example) resulting from the pet sitter’s actions/neglect. Success in such a lawsuit will be dependent on whether one can prove to the satisfaction of the court that the pet sitter failed to provide necessary care (such as food and water) to the animals and that such failure resulted in harm to the animals.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
The seller of my cat is harassing me to return the pet
Q:

Hello, I'm active duty navy stationed in Virginia. I recently found a cat on Craigslist that perfectly fit a description for a loving pet for my 6 year old daughter. The cat was not listed for a price and we met the owner and the cat, we decided to get him and bring him home. We've had him for over 2 weeks now and my daughter and him have connected and he never leaves her side, she was sick for 2 days in bed and he guarded her like a sheep dog. I am about to deploy soon, and today on Memorial day of all days the woman we got the cat from has been bombarding me with about 20 text messages asking for us to return the cat because of the emotional effect it is having on her 2 children, begging us and saying that her "special needs" daughter is upset. we do not want to give him up. does the previous owner have rights?

A:

Generally when a person sells or adopts out his/her companion animal, such person has no further rights to the animal.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
What can I do about the death of my dog?
Q:

We had to surrender our dog to a foster home and a week ago due to we are moving across state and can't afford him due to having an child. Teddy was attacked by a pit in March and it broke his jaw and damage most of his teeth. I found an foundation to help find an foster hom. Teddy was healing  and in good spirits he had an healthy heart and kidneys even due to the attack.  She called me today May 12th telling me what happened. She out right lied to me and tried to tell me this was Teddy's fault. He is an 7 pound terrier poodle mix. She tells me Teddy go out of his crate and her room. which she said she shut the door and lock the crate. I'm shocked that she did not lock his crate or double check it. I'm shocked that her bedroom door was not closed. I'm shocked that she lets big dogs roam the house when no one is there. they all should be in crates when no one is home no one knows what could happen. He should of never been around any of these strange dogs alone (without supervision) during his healing. We don't know if Teddy was dramatize since his attack by the pit and to have this dog around him alone was wrong. I don't care that Teddy got out of he crate that's means they did not do an good job checking the crate before they left also he should of been in another room were the dogs could not get to him. Which she said he was. She told me when we meet that it was going to be that way. Teddy in a crate while he was healing and no dogs around while they were gone. Now he is dead. Please tell me if there is any way I can shut her down. She is not calling me back and I would like my dogs ashes. She has had him only for an week.

A:

 I am so sorry to hear about Teddy. Complaints about animal neglect or abuse should be made to the SPCA (society for the prevention of cruelty to animals), the police, and animal control. The Attorney General also can investigate charities. Generally when a person surrenders an animal, he/she has no further rights to the animal or the animal’s ashes.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
No puppy and no reservation fee back!
Q:

I recently handed over 100 pounds to the owner of a pregnant husky to reserve my puppy. I visited pregnant mom and and handed over cash and arranged to visit puppy in its first week in the meantime we received pics and videos daily and were looking forward to our new addition.unfortunatley due to work comittments we asked if we could reschedule first visit with puppy. Owner has now insisted on refusing us our puppy (due to "lettibg it down" and finding someone who will "come and visit" and will not return the deposit. I explained circumstances and disappointment and the fact that i thought it was a pretty harsh decsion. Was told she would return deposit as it was her choice dale not going ahead but have received nothing and get no response to messages. Where do i stand on this/what shall i do?

A:

I am not familiar with the judicial system or laws in the UK but at least in the US people can sue for money they believe is due to them and for enforcement of a contract (which can include getting possession of an animal). Courts will consider the terms of a written or verbal contract (although when a contract is not written, parties often have different accounts of the deal). 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Legalities of Gifting a dog.
Q:

My sister had been living with her partner for about a year, when she raised the question of getting a dog. Partner continually told her that it wasn't going to happen, but within a week of finding that special pet, the partner adopted the dog and surprised my sister with the gift of a new lifelong companion. After a nasty breakup, partner decides to keep said dog, even after multiple friends and our family were well aware that the dog was indeed a gift to my sister. Now, partner decides that my sister no longer will recieve visitation of the dog, and we are all understandably heartbroken. What steps can I take in this situation? Please help us.

A:

A person who believes that his/her animal is being wrongfully withheld can sue for the return of the animal. Courts consider evidence of “ownership,” such as an adoption or purchase agreement, veterinary records, registration papers, and proof that the animal was given away, sold, or abandoned. Courts may also consider evidence regarding who has been the animal’s primary caretaker and who has paid for the animal’s needs (food, veterinarian, grooming) and for how long. The best interests of the animal may be considered. An animal’s “owner’s” relative would normally not have standing to sue. I suggest that your sister consult with an attorney if she is interested in pursuing a lawsuit for the return of the dog.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Trying to reclaim ESA that was sold
Q:

Facing financial insecurity, I sold my beloved ESA on Craigslist. Finally settled and facing old issues, I contacted the person they were sold to and they had gotten sick and they gave them away. We had discussed prior (and a little on the ad) that the cat was to be in a forever home, not to be gifted or resold and was due for his shots. He claims that I sold him a sick cat (giardia), but he was healthy while he was here, no symptoms, etc and the previous seller said he'd been checked at the vet and was healthy (3 weeks prior). 

How do I get my cat back since the person got rid of the cat after an agreement not to and also without getting it medical attention?

A:

When an individual chooses to sell his/her animal, such individual usually has no rights to get that animal back. An individual who sells an animal to a stranger should realize that once the animal is sold, the deal is generally done and it will be very difficult to get the animal returned (unless the purchaser wants to return the animal). When there is a well drafted written contract providing for the return of an animal for certain contract breaches, there is some chance that a court would order an animal to be returned when such a breach occurs. These cases become much more complicated (and even more difficult to win) when the purchaser no longer has the animal and when the agreement is not in writing. 

 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Ownership of pet after death
Q:

D had a boxer when he moved in with me 2 1/2 yrs ago . The dog has been inside all this time D dead March. He had said I could have his dog --- now his children are wanting him back .Do I have the right to keep his dog?

A:

Typically, a decedent’s property is distributed based on Will provisions (and many people specifically provide for their pets). If there is no Will, intestacy laws are generally followed and next of kin usually inherit the decedent’s property. However, if a person gave an animal away prior to dying the animal would not be subject to the decedent’s Will or intestacy laws (since the animal would not have been “owned” by the decedent at the time of his/her death). I suggest you consult with an attorney in your state.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
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