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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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Kennel says I abandoned my dog.
Q:

I had my dog in a kennel and was unable to get her back because it was too much money. They sent me an email saying I legally abandoned her and I have no rights to her now. Is there anyway I can get her back?

A:

There is a California law which states, in part, that “…whenever any animal is delivered to any veterinarian, dog kennel, …or any other animal care facility pursuant to any written or oral agreement…and the owner of such animal does not pick up the animal within 14 calendar days after the day the animal was due to be picked up, the animal shall be deemed to be abandoned….” There is a discussion of this law and California’s lien law on the California Veterinary Medical Association’s website which states that, “One contingency, however, is that if the owner attempts physically to retrieve the animal or otherwise contact the veterinary facility, or give notice of intent to retrieve the animal within the initial 14-day period, even though the veterinarian’s bill has not been paid, the animal cannot be considered to be abandoned.” Sometimes animal care facilities are willing to work out payment plans and sometimes these disputes can be worked out if negotiated by an attorney or a lawsuit is commenced (although that sometimes can cost more than the debt).


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Should the vet refund our money?
Q:

Our dog was recent treated for heartworms. We paid $300 up front and got her back a few days later. They told us everything should be fine. A few hours later she dropped dead. Should the vet refund us the $300 since the medicine didn't even help our animal? It just killed her.

A:

I am very sorry to hear about your dog. A person who believes that a veterinarian’s actions were improper can sue for a refund and other damages (although simply asking for compensation sometimes works but generally only if the veterinarian also believes that his/her actions were wrong). Small Claims Court is a fairly inexpensive and easy way to commence a legal action. However, proving that a veterinarian acted inappropriately can be difficult without expert testimony. A necropsy can sometimes indicate the cause of death and could be helpful in such cases. Complaints against veterinarians may also be filed online with the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, http://asbvme.alabama.gov, although the Board does not get involved with fee disputes.
 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How can I gets dogs back that my father gave away a year ago?
Q:

My dad gave away my dogs a year ago. I know where they live and I have a phone number. The thing is that I am the legal owner of the dogs. Can I do anything to try and get them back?

A:

One can sue for the return of his/her animals, although the chances of success in such lawsuits are dependent on many different factors. Given the length of time the animals have been in their new home and that that they were given to them by your father, it is probably doubtful that a court would order the return of the animals. Before proceeding, please consider what is in the best interests of the dogs. Sometimes in these situations an adopter will allow visitation by a former ‘owner.’


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can Shelter transfer my animals without owner surrender paperwork?
Q:

My animals were illegally seized, now the local shelter is trying to transfer them out of court jurisdiction, can they do that without owner surrender paperwork?

A:

I suggest retaining an attorney immediately to attempt to get your animals returned if you believe they were illegally seized. A signed surrender form is not required for every instance in which an animal is seized and retained. For example, animals are often seized due to neglect or abuse and they may be temporarily placed in foster care until the criminal case is heard. In some states ‘owners’ may lose rights to the animal if they fail to post a security for the animal’s care pending the criminal case.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Who has custody of this dog?
Q:

My fiance and I broke up about a month ago. Two years ago I bought a dog from the shelter and got her micro chipped. She is still registered to my address and my name but she has been living at his parents house. She still comes over to visits. I bought her dog bed, toys, she eats food over here and over there. Both parties have receipts. My ex is claiming that the dog belongs to him since his parents have paid for the vet bills. I never asked them to take her to the vet nor did they ever discuss these vet visits with me. I personally do not like my dogs to go to the vet that often. I have a golden retriever who goes yearly. Who has custody of the dog? I want her back. He's never at home even after work hours and his parents expressed they never wanted a dog in the first place. I just want her to come home.

A:

In pet custody disputes, ‘ownership’ of the animal is often not 100% clear.  Each situation comes with its own set of facts. When an individual purchases or adopts an animal prior to marriage, that animal generally ‘belongs’ to the purchaser/adopter. However, actions subsequent to the purchase/adoption could change who ‘owns’ the animal. For example, if the purchaser/adopter sells, gives away, or adopts the animal to another person, that animal would normally no longer ‘belong’ to the original purchaser or adopter. If the actions of the original adopter or purchaser implied that the animal was given away or abandoned that too could cause a court to determine that the original purchaser/adopter no longer ‘owns’ the animal. When these disputes cannot be resolved amicably, lawsuits are sometimes commenced for the return of an animal.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How can I get animal records from a Rescue?
Q:

I was originally a foster for a rescue for our lab mix. The rescue that we were fostering for gave us an offer to adopt her at a reduced adoption fee. My fiance and I agreed and signed the papers to adopt her as well as paid the fee. We have made repeated requests for copies of her medical records as well as papers stating that we have adopted her. It has been 2 months and we still have not received anything even though they said that they have mailed them to us. We are getting married in 3 months and these records are needed if we are to board her while we are on our honeymoon as well as need to give to her new vet. What steps can I take to get these records from the rescue?

A:

Louisiana animal shelters are required to maintain records of veterinary treatment given to each animal although I cannot say whether the rescue you adopted your dog from would constitute an animal shelter as defined under the law. Local law enforcement authorities should have access to such records. Local parishes sometimes have additional laws. If the shelter is government run, records may also be accessible under freedom of information laws. If the rescue is not considered a shelter under Louisiana law and/or you cannot obtain the records when you need them, I suggest discussing this situation with a veterinarian who may provide the dog with vaccinations so that she may be able to be boarded while you are away.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
My ex won't give me my dog as we agreed.
Q:

My ex-boyfriend has my dog. We got two together and agreed if we broke up he would get the boy and I would get the girl? Its been a year since we broke up, and I am getting a house she can live in, but he refuses to give her back. He continues to brag about how he gets her high off weed. Her leg is injured and he refuses to give her the medical attention she needs. Please help me get her back! I love her so much!

A:

Animal abuse and neglect are illegal and cruel. I suggest that you contact law enforcement authorities and humane organizations and request that they investigate. A lawsuit can be brought to attempt to get possession of an animal who one believes is being wrongfully withheld. In pet custody cases, courts may try to establish whether the animal was given away or abandoned by one party. In cases where an animal has been residing with one of the disputing parties for a year, courts are likely to consider who has been paying for the animal’s care and what interaction, if any, the person claiming to be the animal’s ‘owner’ has had with the animal. Courts may also consider the best interests of the animal. 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How can I reclaim dog that shelter already adopted out?
Q:

We gave up our dog in a shelter 3 weeks ago and he already got a dopted. I wanted to reclaim him but I was 2 days late, somebody already adopted him. What can I do?

A:

A person who surrendered an animal to a shelter can request that a shelter reach out to adopters to let them know that the person who surrendered the animal had a change of heart. While not likely, it is possible that a new adopter will voluntarily relinquish the animal. However, it is important to consider that shelters and new adopters may not be accommodating for a variety of reasons, one being fear that whatever caused a person to surrender an animal in the first place will likely happen again.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can the SPCA put my dog up for adoption if I can't pay to release him right away?
Q:

My dog recently got out the our yard and a neighbour took him to the SPCA. I called and was advised to come through to identify him, when I identified him they told me he was handed in as a stray and I needed to pay in order to get him back. I advised that I did not have funds at the moment and could pay at the end of the month. They advised me that since I could not pay he would be given up for adoption. What can I do to get him back?

A:

Many states and municipalities have impoundment/redemption laws which set a fee for an “owner” to redeem his/her pet from a shelter. One can sue to attempt to enjoin a shelter from placing an animal for adoption but unless one can obtain the services of a volunteer attorney, the legal fees could exceed the reclaim fees. Sometimes these situations can be resolved by going to the shelter and speaking with staff. Attempting to borrow money from friends and family may be the most expedient way to handle these matters since time is often of the essence and once an animal is placed in a new home, the situation becomes much more complicated.
 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How can I get back my dogs who my friend surrendered?
Q:

My supposed to be "friend" surrendered my dogs without my permission. She was only to babysit them for a weekend when I had to go out of town. How can I get them back? They were only 6 weeks old at the time & no paperwork yet.

A:

If simply asking for the return of animals does not work out, sometimes lawsuits are commenced. These cases can become complicated if the person who surrendered the animals and the person alleging to be the animals’ “owner” have different “facts” regarding the animals’ “ownership” or their agreement concerning the surrender of the animals. These cases can become even more complicated if the animals have already been adopted. I hope that the animals’ best interests are being considered.
 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
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