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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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Can we sue Vet whose misdiagnosis almost killed our new puppy?
Q:

My boyfriend and I adopted a puppy Saturday June 28th. We drove from Rhode Island to Virginia to pick her up. When we met the women we were adopting the puppy from, she had told us the last few days the puppy was having trouble eating and her stools were very black. Upon noticing those characteristics with the puppy, the women had brought her to the Vet on the morning we were suppose to pick her up. The woman we adopted the dog from reported the Vet had told her the puppy may be trying to fight a possible virus and gave her some pills to take twice a day. We monitored the puppy on Sunday and saw she was alert, but very mellow. We took her to our Vet Monday June 30th and learned this puppy was infected with Hook Worm and was anemic. The puppy was immediately hospitalized for 24 hours. Now she is a completely different puppy. Had we not took her to our Vet and kept her on those pills...she would have died. We are now stuck with a hospital bill for a puppy we believed was healthy. Can we sue the Vet who administered the original medication to the women we adopted the puppy from?

A:

It is highly unlikely that a court would order a veterinarian to compensate an animal’s new ‘owner’ for alleged malpractice/negligence that occurred prior to the new ‘owner’ purchasing the animal. Sometimes the seller of a sick animal may be held liable.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
My lost dog may have been adopted by a Facebook friend at a local shelter.
Q:

I lost my dog a month ago and none of my efforts to find him have brought him home. Last night a Facebook friend tagged me in a comment of a picture of a dog that looks to be mine that is currently at a rescue center. I commented and stated that the dog looked like my missing pet and asked how to obtain more info. They responded and asked me to message them a picture and information. I did as requested and they messaged back asking for more details. I again complied and asked of I could see the dog to verify if it was him. The next message I received from them was informing me that he now belonged to them because they obtained him from the local shelter. I responded that I would have no problem adopting him I just want him home and again asked if I could see him to verify. Again I was denied. My question is, what rights do I have as the possible owner of this dog? I don't understand why they asked me for details and then denied me verification if it was my dog or allow me to see him. Thanks for your time.

A:

Generally, when an animal is not reclaimed from an animal shelter within the time prescribed by law, the animal’s ‘owner’ loses rights to the animal. Nonetheless, rescue groups and shelters will often work with prior ‘owners’ in an effort to reunite the animal with his/her family (unless the rescue group or shelter believes that an animal was abused or neglected or the animal has already been placed in a new home). I suggest you consult with an attorney in your area.
 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How can I stop my neigbor from taking our cat?
Q:

Our neighbor keeps on letting our cat into their house after we have repeatedly asked them not to. We adopted our cat from a shelter and think he was an outside cat prior, so he doesn't like to stay inside much. Is there any legal action that I can take if they keep on taking our cat? Or would the police be able to do anything?

A:

Oftentimes, these situations arise when a good natured neighbor is concerned that an animal outside and unsupervised is not getting proper care. It is safer for companion animals to be indoors or outdoors with supervision. Consider that far worse things could happen to an unsupervised companion animal than being temporarily let into a neighbor’s home (such as being hit by a car, abused, harmed by another animal, stolen, etc.). The police typically will not get involved in these types of disputes unless they believe an animal has been stolen or abused. However, if an animal is outdoors in violation of local leash, license, rabies, and other laws, law enforcement authorities may issues summonses to the animal’s ‘owner.’
 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can someone take dog back after leaving it for 3 years?
Q:

If someone left their dog with me because they had no place for them when they moved, can they legally get the dog back after almost three years? They've made no effort, until now, and I am very fond of the dog, and don't feel I should have to give her up, especially when no agreement was ever made that I would "take care" of the dog until this person had a place to keep her?

A:

In determining if a person is entitled to the return of a dog who was left in someone else's care for an extended period of time, courts would likely consider terms of a contract, who paid for the animal’s care, interaction between the original ‘owner’ and the dog, and may consider the animal’s best interests. Three years is a long time in the life of a dog and courts may be very reluctant to order an animal returned unless there is evidence that there is a boarding agreement still in effect.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
We were given a dog, then they stole her and fled.
Q:

We were given a dog by a guy who had just moved from Texas. Their landlord won't allow them to have pets. They were sad and wanted to see the dog so we met at a park. They were talking about trying to get the landlord to let them keep her. We said we wouldn't give back the dog. They took her and fled in their van. Police said it was civil. If we go to court would we win? We have bought lots of stuff since we got her as well.

A:

If a court believes that a person unconditionally gave an animal away as a gift and then stole the animal from the new ‘adopter,’ it is likely that a court would order the animal be returned to the ‘adopter.’ Of course, often people have different ‘recollections’ of their pet care arrangements with one party saying an animal was a gift and another saying the animal was left for temporary boarding. Courts are likely to consider the relationship between the parties, who paid for the animal’s care, and how long the arrangement had been going on.
 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Am I still responsible for fines if dog passed away?
Q:

I received 3 tickets in Florida a week after I got down here from Michigan. My miniature pincher got out of his house and got into a neighbors yard. Their fence was broken. Their pit bull bit my dog and the owner claims he tried pulling my dog from his pit bull and my dog bit him in the hand. I received 3 tickets, one for rabies, one for license and one for dog at large. I never was able to get the shots and license because he passed away. Am I still responsible for all these tickets even though my dog passed away?

A:

That would be up to the judge or hearing officer. Tickets are not automatically voided and cases are not automatically dismissed simply because a dog died subsequent to the date of the alleged violation. The tickets were issued to you, not the dog!


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Vet mis-diagnosed my dog, which led to her death.
Q:

My 4 yr old corgi had a high bile acid 6 months ago and was being treated with diet. My son died shortly after her test so we could not do further testing but with blood tests were assured by the vet that her liver function was fine. I took her in to check her liver and asked for a bile acid test. Vet stated he didn't need it if her liver enzymes were normal. We tested those and they were normal.
A month later she started getting sick and at each visit I asked about liver. He treated her for other things including a pinched nerve. Two weeks later and many appts and wrong meds-she died. They gave her the wrong meds which were toxic to her liver. She never recovered and died a few days later. I have a detailed report of their wrong doing. What shall I do?

A:

I am so sorry to hear about your losses. Every state has a veterinary licensing board. In California, one can contact the California Veterinary Medical Board to make a complaint against a veterinarian (www.vmb.ca.gov, click ‘Consumers’ for information on filing a complaint). These agencies review complaints regarding negligence, incompetence, fraud, and unprofessional behavior, but generally will not get involved with fee disputes. In addition to making a complaint with a licensing board, one can commence a lawsuit for monetary compensation although proving negligence can often be very difficult without an expert witness who can testify that a professional’s conduct was negligent or otherwise improper.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can a person keep your cat?
Q:

My son had a kitten. He moved and could not take the cat with him. His girlfriend agreed to watch the cat for him and that the cat was still his. Now she has had the cat for 4 months and says she will not give the cat back. She says it's hers now because of how long she has had him. Can she keep the cat?

A:

Often disputing parties have a different understanding of an animal care agreement. If the agreement is not in writing and a case is litigated, the court in determining ‘ownership’ of the cat will likely consider who purchased/adopted the cat and also who has cared for the cat and paid for the cat’s needs. Courts may consider an animal to be abandoned if not picked up until long after the agreed upon time or may (or may not) consider that an animal left in someone else's care for a long period of time was gifted and not simply boarded.
 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
I think my dog was abused while in a friends care.
Q:

I left my dog with some of my husbands friends. She has been their for almost two months. I got her today and there are clear signs of neglect. Her ribs are visible, as is her pelvic bone. Also, it looks like they have been letting their dogs fight or attack her. She has scabs, scratches and reds marks all over her. Please help.

A:

Virginia law provides that it is unlawful to deprive an animal of necessary food, water, shelter and emergency veterinary care. Promoting animal fighting is also against the law. Contact your local humane investigator if you wish to file a complaint. I hope your dog gets the care she needs.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can I stop my Dad from putting my dog down when there is nothing wrong with him?
Q:

My dad wants to put my dog down simply for the reason his back paws don't work they way they used to. They affect the way he walks, but my dog isn't in any pain at all and eats fine, goes to the bathroom fine, and plays, even at the age of 11. My question is, is there any way to stop my dad from doing this, or delay the process? I am not aware of any way, so I would appreciate any feedback. Thank you very much!

A:

It is always very difficult when family members have different views about the most humane way to care for an aging animal, although from what you say in your question your dog still has a good quality of life. Without knowing more (such as who is the legal owner of the dog,  how old you are, and if you are in a position to move and take your dog), it is very difficult to discuss legal options. One normally has no legal right to take another person’s dog and have the dog killed. I suggest that if at all possible it might be beneficial to try to get other family members to intervene. Also, sometimes contacting the dog’s veterinarian or shelter (if you believe the dog will be brought there) to express concern can help to resolve a difficult situation. I hope this works out for your dog and for you.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
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