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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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Can I keep the dog?
Q:

My brother dropped his dog off with me cause he cant have her where he is.. She had no hair on her back, and you could see her bones when we got her.. I got her hair to grow back and some meat on her bones.. But he wants to come get her and take her to the pound where most likely they will put her down cause she is a pit/mix.. Do I have to give her back or could I keep her?

A:

The rights of the person with whom an animal was left is often dependent on the agreement with the “owner” and then on whether the “owner” breached the agreement (for example, the "owner" did not retrieve the animal when he/she agreed to do so).  Court could find, depending on the circumstances of each case, that an animal was abandoned, gifted, sold, or temporarily boarded. In any event, it is hard to understand why your brother would not let you continue to keep the dog who he does not want and would otherwise take to the pound. Individuals who suspect an animal is being neglected or abused should contact their local societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCA), animal control officers, and the police. 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can the rescue organization bring legal action against me?
Q:

We rescued a dog that unfortunately is not working out. Originally we were going to return him to a foster with the rescue organization. But a pet groomer in our town would like him. The rescue organization says we have to surrender the dog to them and the groomer has to apply for adoption, which would be to expensive for them. Can the rescue organization bring legal action against me if I give the dog to the groomer? Thanks.

A:

Adoption agreements sometimes contain provisions requiring adopters to return animals to the adoption organization if the adopter decides not to keep the animal.  The purpose of these provisions is to allow adoption organizations to best ensure that animals who were in their custody are placed in homes that meet the adoption organization’s standards. An adoption organization can sue an adopter for breach of contract, although most adoption organizations work with adopters in the best interests of the animal. Consider that caring for an animal can be expensive so an adopter should at least be able to afford an adoption fee. 


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

Hi,  I'm in a desperate situation .... in a nut shell. .. I took in a very sweet stray TNR cat that kept coming around my house back in September 2014.  I already have 4 dogs and 4 cats. .(which includes the foster I just took in on May 17th  from NYC ACC at risk list) ....   so I never really intended to keep ---, not at this point anyway. My nephew was going to adopt her in Dec after he closed on his house ... the closing was stalled until Feb and at that time he told me that he was sorry but he couldn't take her (he was allergic to his girlfriend's cat after he broke out in hives).  I had mentioned to a friend of mine that I had been looking for a good home for her and I got a call from her out of the blue on June 2nd...on June 3rd  she came over to meet the cat decided she wanted her took her home in 40 minutes she was gone..... I've never rehomed an animal before and realized shortly after she left I had made a horrible mistake ... I love this cat and she was so bonded  to me.   I'm begging her to give her back to me but now she has cut me off completely she refuses and does not respond to my text or phone calls.   I'm devastated  and I feel like I betrayed her by giving her away.   My 5 yr old grandson is also very upset.   I've tried everything to convince this lady to give her back .... I understand her being angry and disgusted with me but I told her I'm only human That I made a mistake, I've never rehomed an animal before and i was absolutely heartbroken.  She won't budge. This is a well educated woman----She has access to so  many cats that she can adopt at the spca she volunteers at.   She sent me a picture of her and I can see in the picture that she was stressed (I know her very well,  her fur was visibly spikey, her sign of stress)  I told her that because she is FIV +, I believed stress was going to kill her.    But she's the expert (not) she's honestly a know it all, and cold hearted.  I've asked her twice in the past 7 days and she told her friend that this was insanity, and she flat out refuses and told her to stay out of it.
I do have proof I owned her as i have her rabies vac record.  I did not make her sign a contract .... I want her back ... I'm crying everyday .... can I sue her?  Do you know if I have legal standing?  I have her name and address. ... maybe if she got a letter from attorney she would change her tune?  It hurts me so much that she flat out ignores me.  
I had gotten my foster dog   from ACC death row only 2 days prior to all this going down so I think I was just overwhelmed and perhaps not  really thinking this through clearly  ...thought I could handle this and now I'm just beside myself ..... sad angry and mostly disgusted with myself. I offered to reimburse her any expenses and surely she couldn't be bonded in days 

A:

In a nutshell, you gave the cat away. Having rabies vaccination and other records for an animal does not negate the fact that the animal was given away. Many adopters will not return an animal for a variety of reasons, including consideration for the well-being of the animal. Consider that you said you never intended to keep the cat and that you didn’t. I hope the cat does well in her new home.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Original owner wants dog back
Q:

I answered a dog ad that the owner had put up. We meet and he gave us medical records and other items. The reason about giving her up is because they are moving back to their home state and cannot afford and don't have the time to spend with her and also they are having a baby. Now it's been almost a week and he wants the dog back because he misses her. So now what?

A:

Generally when a person adopts out or sells his/her animal, such person has no further rights to that animal. The decision to give up an animal should not be taken lightly. People should consider this very important decision before, not after, giving away or selling an animal. It is unfair to the animal and to the adopters/purchasers when guilt ridden and regretful pet “parents” change their minds and try to back track


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Do I have a legal case to sue?
Q:

There's the situation my dogs were staying with my dad and he died. The parametric said they couldn't remove the body till the dogs were gone or contained. My grandmother then sign a consent form to the spca to kill my dad's dogs and mine to remove the body. Without my consent they didn't even give me a chance to come remove them do I have a legal case to sue the spca or my grandmother?  Sincerely heartbroken.

A:

 I am so sorry to hear about your father and the dogs. If a person who signs an animal surrender document is not the animal’s “owner” or “owner’s” authorized agent, such person could be held liable to the animal’s rightful “owner.” It is possible an organization could be held liable in situations involving the euthanasia of an animal, but its liability is not as clear in situations where a person lied in writing to the organization about the animal’s “ownership.” Sadly, in some situations involving animals there is a lot of blame to go around. 

It is premature for anyone to make final disposition of animals found in a decedent’s home immediately upon the decedent’s death. Consider that the decedent could have made provision for the animals in a will or that someone in the will is named to take the decedent’s property (which could include animals). If the decedent died without a will, next of kin would normally have rights to the decedent’s property. Also, sometimes questions can arise regarding whether a decedent was the animal’s “owner” at the time of his/her death. All of this should be sorted out before final disposition of animals are made.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How do I get my dog back? Urgent!
Q:

Gave my dog in December to a friend I thought I could trust. The person has not been taking proper care of him. I have been checking on him and he has not been to the vet for legal vaccines. I took him yesterday, all the vet work is still in my name. He is legally mine. How do I get my dog back? I am pressed for time because he is moving to Tx. June 30. Please help me get my dog back!

A:

Generally when an individual gives his/her dog away, such individual has no further legal rights to that animal even if he/she still has vet records in his/her name (unless there was an agreement providing for specific rights to get the animal returned). When one suspects animal cruelty/neglect, local law enforcement agencies, such as a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCA), animal control officer, and the police, should be contacted. However, it is important to keep in mind that failing to have vaccines would not typically constitute cruelty/neglect that would trigger seizure or forfeiture of the animal. Sometimes a new “owner” who has not bonded with an animal will agree to return an animal to the original “owner.” At times, the prior “owner” needs to purchase the animal in order to seal the deal (the new “owner” may consider that he/she fed and watched to animal for a period of time, akin to boarding, and should be compensated). The transfer of “ownership” should be in writing to help avoid future conflicts.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Is this legal action enforceable by the breed rescue?
Q:

Adopted and paid for a 2 month old German Shepherd puppy. Signed adoption agreement and a spay neuter contract requiring spay between 4 and 6 months and provide proof. At the time we signed the agreement. Took puppy to vet to discuss spay. Based on updated info and UC Berkley study regarding health risks spaying large breed dogs before one year of age, our vet advised us against spaying her until one year of age. Breed org. told us they did not care what our vet said and they are  threatening us with possible law, suit, $1500.00 fee, breach of contract and seizure of our dog. We are stressed to the max. I did not say we would not spay our dog; just want to give her the best chance and not risk her health by spaying before it is recommended. Is this type of legal action enforceable by the breed rescue in Oregon?

A:

Courts have upheld animal adoption agreements. Many of these agreements contain spay/neuter provisions. The provisions I have seen require spay/neuter a lot sooner than one year of age. In fact, a lot of shelters and rescue organizations spay/neuter prior to adoption, and as early as eight weeks of age. In some areas, such as New York City, shelters must spay/neuter prior to adoption (with very limited exceptions). Note that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states on its website’s spaying and neutering page: “Keep in mind that, contrary to popular belief, it may NOT be best to wait until your female dog or cat has gone through its first heat cycle.” It also states: “Early spaying of female dogs and cats can help protect them from some serious health problems later in life such as uterine infections and breast cancer. Neutering your male pet can also lessen its risk of developing benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate gland) and testicular cancer.” 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Am I responsible?
Q:

My daughter was playing with her dog and he took off and running in the street got hit by a car. The person who was driving doesn't have car insurance ..my dog died. My daughter and I saw the tragedy...am I responsible? What happens I'm a renter...accident happen in a residential area...

Thank you

A:

I am very sorry for your loss. It is unclear whether you are inquiring about your potential liability if the driver sues for damage to his car or injury to himself, if you are questioning whether you  have a meritorious lawsuit against the driver for the death of your dog, or if you are asking if you are generally responsible for not supervising the dog, or all of the above. It is possible that a dog’s “owner” could be held liable for injuries and damage caused as a result of his/her unrestrained dog running in the street. It is unlikely that a driver would be held liable for hitting a dog that runs in front of the car (there could be exceptions if, for example, the driver is speeding, driving while intoxicated, or intentionally hits the animal). Renters with insurance should check with their carriers regarding coverage. 


Submitted by Ms. Ortiz
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How can I get my dog back?
Q:

Me and my daughters dad got a dog for her for Christmas from a shelter and we paid 250.00 for him we had him for a year and in February of 2015 we lost our home. And became homeless so I asked my aunt to please take care of our dog so has had him since and now she is treating to take him from us and my daughter wants him back. How can I go about getting him back and do I have any right to.

A:

A lawsuit can be commenced if one believes his/her animal is being wrongfully withheld. When an animal’s “owner” places his/her animal in another person’s care, particularly for an extended period of time, the issue will be whether the animal was boarded temporarily, given away, or abandoned. 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Keeping my dog
Q:

My daughter's friend gave us her dog about three months ago. Now they are making noise about taking her back.  We are very attached to our baby can they do that?

A:

Generally when an individual gives his/her dog away, such individual has no further legal rights to that animal. However, these situations can get more complex when minors are involved with the transaction. Nevertheless, three months is a long time so it would probably be difficult for even a minor’s parents/guardians to win a lawsuit for the return of an animal after this length of time (but that depends on all of the facts of each case). 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
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