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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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Please help! Should the dog legally be mine?
Q:

Hello, I recently was kicked out of my boyfriend's mom's house. I had a pitbull that is 6 months. He wasn't a gift to her, but he was left there by her ex who neglected him and left him without food. I ended up moving in and taking him as my own. She said that I could have him and that I had to take care of him and when I moved out I was to take him with me. I bought him all his food, toys, and got him a cage. Me and her had gotten into a few problems, and she kicked me out, but said I could not have the dog, even though she never paid for the dog, or anything for him. I got him shots too. But now she is trying to sell the dog, and I don't know what to do.

A:

It can be difficult to prove the contents of a verbal agreement. When a dispute arises, each party often has a different version of the agreement. One can sue for the return of an animal. However, sometimes it is more expedient to buy the animal since it can be costly to litigate a case and the court’s ruling may not be in one’s favor.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Who do the puppies belong to?
Q:

My neighbor's lab has lived at my house for over 2 years now. She may go home occasionally. She has had puppies under my house. I have found good homes for them but the owners insist they are now going to come get their puppies.

Whose puppies are they and what can I do to prevent them from removing these babies from my property?

A:

Sometimes there is no clear answer to a question. Your question falls into this category. It sounds as if you and your neighbor “shared” the mother dog. You actually refer to the dog as your “neighbor’s lab.” The puppies should not be under anyone’s house, but rather the mother and puppies should be given humane care inside one of your homes. You and your neighbor should consult with a veterinarian and then try to work out an amicable arrangement. The mother dog should be spayed as soon as the veterinarian says it can safely be done.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Do I have to return my dog given to me last Christmas?
Q:

I was given a dog for Christmas last year and have spent over $600.00 in vet, grooming, microchipping, and toys and such on him, now they want him back. I have all my receipts for showing the dog has been cared for. While the dog whom was a puppy at the time they had him was never given any puppy shots, not even rabies shot. So we had to start from the beginning and catch him up along with blood test to test for heartworm.

A:

Usually when one receives a gift, one is not required to return the gift.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Do I have to provide my home address to a previous owner suing for pet visitation?
Q:

A woman gave me a parrot about a year and a half ago. She no longer wanted it, and couldn't sell it, so we finally agreed I would give it a good home. She has asked a few times to come to my house to visit my parrot and I have tactfully and politely avoided the question. The answer would be "no" because I think she is weird and being around her makes me feel uncomfortable. I just don't want her in my home.

Now she has filed a civil suit seeking visitation of my parrot. I was served at work. The response to the summons, which she will get a copy of, asks for my address. I don't want her to have my home address. Must I record my address on that document?

Also, do you think the case will actually be heard? It seems absurd to me but I guess people can sue for anything.

A:

You should check with the court and/or an attorney in your area about using your work address or a post office address. Perhaps the person who gave you the parrot wants to make sure the bird is getting good care. Have you considered sharing a video, photos, or veterinary records? Attorneys sometimes make motions to have cases dismissed without a trial when, for example, there are no facts in dispute. However, often parties do not agree on the facts.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How can I get my adopted puppy back?
Q:

I adopted out a puppy that I rescued. I adopted him out with shots and de-wormings for a small fee and an agreement with the new adopter stating if, for any reason, they cannot keep the puppy he comes back to me and me only. They agreed, but it wasn't on paper, but I do have it saved in a text message. So now I see the new adopters are trying to sell the puppy after only 4 weeks of having him and she refuses to admit she is when I ask her why she is selling him and that I want him back. So I created a fake email and sure enough she IS in fact trying to sell him. I want him back. I don't want him being rehomed to just anyone! What can I do? If I can get her to meet me somewhere while having her think I'm someone else and then I just take the puppy will I get in trouble for "stealing" even though she agreed in a text to return him if she was unable to keep or care for him? Please help.

A:

Purchasing the dog can be the most expedient and surest way of getting a dog back in these types of situations. Using self-help, that is enforcing what one perceives to be his/her rights without using the legal system, can be problematic. The police may intercede. Also, if in the meantime the dog is sold to another person it will be that much more difficult to get the animal returned. Lawsuits for the return of a dog can be time consuming and costly and there is no assurance of winning the case.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can a Vet hold pet ashes hostage until bill is paid in full?
Q:

My mother, who is 84 and frail, had a VERY SICK, OBESE, OLD dog who was taken to the vet, by my sister, due to not eating and lethargy. The vet kept the dog 2 days running tests. The dog went into cardiac arrest and died.

Instead of the doctor telling my mother (family) that the dog was old, very sick, and obese and that she needed to be put down, this vet conducted $900 worth of tests, including boarding the couple of nights. Let alone the dog was diabetic and had seizures, along with a liver problem.

I would like to know if this is common practice, now of days, to do heroic measures on an old, sick dog, running up a HUGE bill, knowing the dog is on its death bed, instead of just putting them down.

And second, I said I'd pay for the cremation of the dog, but they will not release the ashes until my mother has paid the bill in full. My mother does not have the money to pay it off right now, but wants to pay payments. The office said that would be fine, but she can't have the ashes until the bill is paid in full. Is this legal to hold the dogs ashes hostage?

A:

I am so sorry to hear about your mother’s dog. Just how sick the dog was may not have been able to be determined until tests were done. The fact that a dog is old, sick and obese does not necessarily mean that the dog is dying or needs to be euthanized. The Baltimore Sun recently reported that the Maryland Board of Veterinary Examiners was discussing a regulation (which may soon take effect or already be in effect) to require veterinarians to issue informed-consent forms to pet “owners” before providing treatment. Many veterinarians already use such forms. If your sister signed a consent form, it should be reviewed. Also, every state has a veterinary board which reviews complaints against veterinarians. The Maryland Board of Veterinary Examiners has a complaint form online.

While there is a specific law in Maryland pertaining to rights of veterinarians when an animal's guardian does not retrieve his/her animal in a timely manner, this law does not address remains of deceased animals. The veterinary board may have an opinion on this sensitive subject so I suggest you contact the board about this issue as well. Consider obtaining the services of an attorney in your state who may be able to negotiate a mutually satisfactory arrangement between your family and the veterinarian, although keep in mind that the attorney’s fees may be more than the amount due to the veterinarian.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Will my soon to be ex-husband'd dog still be considered a service dog if I have custody?
Q:

My soon to be ex-husband and I have a dog that is his service dog, but when we get divorced I'm taking the dog. I wanted to know if that means she is still considered a service dog even if it's not under my name? Thanks so much for your time. Oh and yes he does approve of giving her to me because she's like my child so he agreed to let me have her.

A:

The federal Fair Housing Act, federal Americans with Disabilities Act, and various state laws define ‘service dog’ differently, but the one thing these laws have in common is that the rights granted are for the benefit of the disabled person. The purpose of these laws is to prevent discrimination. For example, persons with disabilities have rights to bring their service animals to places where pets are not allowed and persons with disabilities are usually allowed to keep their assistive animals in housing that prohibits pets. A person without disabilities who is accompanied by a dog who was trained or otherwise used as a service/assistive animal by a disabled person, would not be afforded the same rights as the disabled person.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Is my adopted dog a rescue?
Q:

I adopted my dog from an animal shelter. Would this make him a rescue?

A:

Absolutely! Animal shelters are filled with wonderful homeless animals, all who need loving homes.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Veterinarian Neglect - Justice for Boomer!
Q:

To add to my story about my Boomer, a beautiful Lhasa Apso who just turned 2 in July. Do you give a human medicine for high blood pressure with out first testing for it, to see if indeed you need it? After unnecessary tests my Boomer got x-rays. They found huge gall stones in his gall bladder; some lined up in his urinary track - sharp too. So him stretching his leg out was from being in so much pain and day 2 he did not want to walk. I told the vet this when I went to pick him up to bring him in he bit at me - he was letting me know he was in pain. This was a leashed dog, I was always with him, telling everything he did and all shots up to date including rabies shots. After the surgery to remove these sharp big stones, I was there after he came out of surgery. So relieved he lifted his head and responded to me right away - clear eyed and all! Thinking he was going to be watched over all night too, that's what the vet made me think because if I knew he would be alone for 1 minute I would have taken him home. The vet did not tell me he would be alone, that also is ripping me apart. I go the next day, my Boomer was in a vegetative state. He could not move and his eyes were kind of gray. I was beyond shocked and said what the heck happened and why did you neglect to tell me he would be alone. She admitted she should have told me, said she was sorry, are you kidding me? No matter the outcome at least my baby would have been home next to me, not alone, that would have been closure for me. He woke up strong and lifted his head fine and opened his eyes. His clear loving eyes to a vegetable the next morning, said he had a seizure. Bull and no one there to see that seizure, while someone was there they even told me he was standing up. So this vet administered meds for a seizure that I really don't believe he had.

It does not add up. How many family's have lost their beloved pets to carelessness. So no Boomer, no closure, and a $1,600 bill to add to all this mess. This story has more after I had to put Boomer down the day before Thanksgiving, I knew he was not going to pull out of this by now he was suffering worse. She, the vet, calls to tell me they are taking a piece of his brain to see if he had rabies. I told her then we have an issue because he had all his shots up to date and nothing bit him. That did not make sense as if I did not got through enough and my poor Boomer too. So I said since I don't have a choice in the matter please look for anything that might be wrong. She told me a couple of days we would know. Well a week and a half later I called for 2 days wanting to speak to her directly. I was told she could not talk to me that day so I left my house to only come back from a message on my phone from her. As if she didn't do enough wrong, her message (that I kept by the way) was this: Oh the test came back negative for rabies. Oh and it's good you got his ashes. Are you kidding me, how heartless of a comment. She could not talk to me, but called and left a message. It's wrong and it tells me she was avoiding me about this whole matter. Shows guilt to me. Please I need legal advice.How many stories with animals dying because the wrong medicine was administered? Too many and they get away with it and the owner has lost something precious and left with a huge bill. This is so wrong. Someone must do something about this, please help for justice for Boomer!

A:

I am so sorry to hear about Boomer. Every state has a veterinary licensing board. In Illinois, The Department of Financial & Professional Regulation accepts complaints against veterinarians. This department has the authority to revoke and suspend licenses, place veterinarians on probation and reprimand veterinarians. One can submit a complaint at www.idfpr.com/DPR/filing/complaint.asp or by calling 312-814-6910. Pet guardians can also sue veterinarians. It is preferable to have an attorney handle such cases, but when that is not possible, some aggrieved pet guardians commence lawsuits in Small Claims Court. I suggest you get a copy of your veterinary records. While it is not always necessary, it is often beneficial in such cases to have an expert witness, such as another veterinarian, willing to testify.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can I locate my surrendered dog by microchip?
Q:

My ex put our 13 month old boy into the animal shelter and left town. I didn't know for 3 weeks, by the time I got there he was gone. The shelter microchipped and sold him. Can I somehow find him through the chip?

A:

Microchips are usually registered to the shelter which places an animal for adoption or the adopter. It is highly unlikely that without a court order the shelter or microchip company would release the identity of a dog’s new “owner.”


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
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