World's Largest NO-KILL
Animal Rescue
and Adoption Organization
 
 
 

 

Members get our updates on rescue alerts, league events, special offers and more.

sign up!

animal

Facebook Instagram YouTube Twitter
    

Like us on Facebook  
Like us on Facebook  
| Share share | email | print | A A

Search Advice

Search for:
Hint: Use * for wildcard, e.g. “adopt*” will return results matching both “adoption” and “adopting”

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.

animal
Categories
experts
Legal Category
 
Gifted puppy with return condition
Q:

I had given a friend a puppy from an accidental litter. When I gave him he puppy, it was under the condition that should anything happen and he could no longer care for the puppy or house the puppy at his residence, it was to be returned to me.
My friend just passed away and his girlfriend is giving me a hard time regarding transferring the puppy back to me. The puppy was given to him not her and I don't believe that she has any legal bearing to keep the puppy from me. Can you give me any idea how to pursue this without going to court?



A:

Death can void certain contracts. Verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in the best of circumstances (and even more difficult when one of the parties to the alleged contract has died). Also, wills contain provisions for the distribution of property and sometimes wills and trusts contain specific provisions for the care of the decedent’s animals. If there is no will/trust, usually the next of kin will be entitled to the decedent’s property and animals (under intestacy laws). To further complicate matters, sometimes prior to dying a person gives his/her animals away (in which case the will/trust and intestacy laws would not generally be applicable). Consult with an attorney in your area if you want to pursue this matter but please consider what is in the best interests of the dog. I suggest you have your animals spayed/neutered to avoid any further accidental litters.
 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How do I get my dog back from a shelter?
Q:

I last month I signed a paper giving up my rights to my dog. I didn't know what I was signing and at the time was having trouble taking care of her and was thinking that an animal control shelter could help. I was wrong; they sent her too a place in Illinois, I live in Indiana. My husband went and asked for her back twice and they refused to give her back. I was crying and asking for help because she had a skin disease I couldn't afford the treatment at the time. They gave me a ticket for abandonment.  Could you help us get our girl back. She is mourning and needs too come home.

A:

Generally when a person signs an animal surrender agreement, such person no longer has any rights to that animal (unless the agreement specifically provides for rights). An animal’s “parent” is legally responsible for ensuring that his/her animals are provided with necessary care, including, for example, sufficient food, water, shelter and veterinary care. I suggest you consult with an attorney in your area although it is an uphill battle to try to get an animal returned after an animal surrender form has been signed. I hope that the dog is doing well and that you get some solace in knowing that she may be getting the veterinary care that she needs.
 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How do I claim legal ownership of my dog?
Q:

I bought a dog that's AKC registered. But the breeder I got him from said she was keeping his papers because of breeding rights. She is still listed as his legal registered owner on his papers. How do you go about getting his papers and becoming his legal owner on the papers so I can have full AKC and breeding rights to him? I may never breed him but if I wanted to I want to be able to do it and register the litter too. She said if I ever wanted to breed him to call her because she has a female like him. Please help!!



A:

It is important for individuals to carefully read and fully understand their rights and obligations prior to purchasing an animal. Breeders sometimes include provisions regarding breeding and co-ownership rights in their contracts. If the seller agreed to but failed to provide AKC or other registration papers to the purchaser, the purchaser can sue to try to get the papers or reimbursement for at least part of the purchase price of the animal. New York attempts to place a monetary value on such papers (which may/may not be persuasive in other states without a similar law). The NY law provides that pet dealers who promised but failed to provide the registration documents in a timely manner (generally within 120 days from sale) must give the purchaser a partial refund of 75% of the animal's purchase price. Consider that there are so many wonderful animals at shelters just waiting for a second chance for a loving home.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How do I transfer ownership of my dog?
Q:

I have paperwork for my dog who has a chip but I want to transfer ownership to someone else. What do I need to do so I am not legally responsible for the dog?


A:

Microchip companies have “ownership” transfer procedures so I suggest you contact the company that maintains the microchip information for the dog. A written report of a change of "ownership" should also be filed with the municipality in which the dog is licensed.  Individuals who transfer “ownership” of their animals can also enter into a written agreement with the adopter/purchaser which spells out the terms of the “ownership” transfer.
 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Should I contact the former owner of my dog?
Q:

I adopted my dog a year and a half ago and just found her former owner's information in the adoption packet. I don't know if the packet was supposed to have her info, but I feel like if I were on the other end of this situation I would want to know what happened to my dog. I want to contact her with an offer for updates and peace of mind, but don't want to step on any toes. I wouldn't be opening the shelter up to a lawsuit by doing so, would I?



A:

This is a unique question. Many adopters would be concerned that a person who surrendered an animal might have regrets and that hearing from the adopter could open up a can of worms. Excuse the pun but in this type of situation it is likely that a lot of people would say, “Let sleeping dogs lie.” Lawsuits are brought all of the time, some more frivolous and more winnable than others. It is difficult to know whether a person who surrendered an animal to a shelter would consider suing the shelter for releasing his/her contact information or would instead really appreciate an update about the animal. It might be less complicated to contact the shelter directly to find out if the shelter would provide the person who surrendered the dog with a recent photo of the dog.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Animal Rescue Threatening to Reclaim Puppy
Q:

2 months ago, we adopted a puppy from a local Colorado rescue.  At the time of adoption, we signed a contract that stated we would adhere to several provisions.  One of them was the requirement to have our puppy neutered within 90 days of adoption.
When we went to schedule the neutering, our vet told us to wait until he was 8 months to a year of age with his health interests in mind.  The state of Colorado has a statue (CRS 35-80-106.4) that requires rescue dogs to be neutered or to go out on contract for neuter.  However, that same statute has a provision that allows for exemptions to be made if a veterinarian provides the rescue with a written letter advising the wait.  Which our veterinarian did on our behalf.
Despite this, our rescue is still threatening to reclaim him.  Does the rescue have a legitimate claim to him, what are the legal means they will have to pursue to actually take him from us, and what can we do to protect ourselves and keep our best friend in our lives forever.
Thank you!

A:

As you mentioned in your question, Colorado’s animal sterilization law provides that an animal shelter or rescue may not release a dog or cat for adoption unless the animal has been sterilized or the prospective adopter signs an agreement to have the animal sterilized within 90 days after adoption. The 90 day period can be extended if a veterinarian states in writing that sterilization could jeopardize the life or health of the animal. That language was likely meant to allow an exemption due to the health of the particular animal and not simply because of a veterinarian’s personal opinion that sterilization should generally be performed when a dog is at least eight months of age. However, the language of the statute is broad and may be subject to various interpretations (unlike New York City’s law which makes it clear that the veterinary exemption cannot be based solely on the age of the animal if the animal is at least eight weeks of age). Colorado's law further provides that the animal rescue “may promptly reclaim the animal from the prospective owner” if the rescue is not provided with timely proof of sterilization. The rights of the parties would also be dependent on the adoption contract, any other documents signed by the parties, and any local laws. A rescue organization could commence a lawsuit for the return of an animal for a breach of the adoption contract or other documents signed by the parties or violation of the law. Depending on the contract, law, and circumstances, some rescue groups reclaim animals without commencing a lawsuit (although the legality of doing so depends on the facts of each situation).
 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Ex-boyfriend took my dog
Q:

Hello, my boyfriend gave me a dog for valentines day and shortly after we broke up now he wants to take the dog back. I bought expensive milk, food, and other essentials for the dog. He treats her so bad; he keeps her locked up in a dark room all day without any place to run. I am  so heartbroken I need to get my dog back. Please help me with some advice

A:

Individuals who believe that their animals are being wrongfully withheld can commence a lawsuit (commonly referred to as a replevin action) for the return of their animals. Generally when a person gives an animal as a gift, the gift giver has no further rights to the animal. If litigated, courts will consider the evidence to determine whether the animal was, in fact, given as a gift and whether there were any agreed upon conditions for the return of the animal.
 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Dog left in friend's care by owner.
Q:

I have a friend who agreed to take care of his roommate's dog for 3 months while the roommate worked temporarily out of state. The dog was rescued as a puppy by the roommate. Financial compensation was made for those 3 months.
Before his roommate left my friend asked for any medical records. The roommate had none. It turns out that the dog had not been fixed nor had she been taken in for any medical visits since having been adopted. At the time the dog was almost two years old.
After 3 months the roommate did not request his dog back. In fact, he moved to a completely different state. He did come back into town briefly for a visit and never contacted my friend nor inquired about the dog. My friend would not have known about the visit if not for Facebook.
After that my friend took the dog's medical needs into his own hands. He had the dog fixed, vaccinated, and microchipped. He has even enrolled the dog on his pet insurance plan and payed a pet deposit at his new apartment. Now, after 9 months, the roommate has asked for the dog back. Does he have any legal claim after having left the dog for 6 months over the agreed upon and compensated for time?
Thank you for your help!




A:

 Colorado’s animal abandonment law provides that it is unlawful to abandon an animal and defines "Abandon" to mean “the leaving of an animal without adequate provisions for the animal's proper care …” Colorado also has a lien law which provides that persons “to whom pet animals are entrusted for the purpose of feeding, keeping, boarding, or medical care shall have a lien… for the amount that may be due …” It is difficult to predict the outcome of pet custody cases since often there is no written agreement which states the rights and responsibilities of the parties and often each party has a different version of the “facts.” A court could determine that the original “owner” abandoned the animal and thus has no further rights, or a court might order the return of an animal upon the payment of the amount due for the animal’s care.  The court could also issue a different order depending on the evidence presented.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Pet sitting service will not give back my dog.
Q:

I have a service dog (registered) Perseus, who has separation anxiety (we are always together, I have severe anxiety as well). I had some issues at my restaurant that required me to leave him home for a few hours, he barked too much so I had to call a friend whom we used a pet sitting service with too watch him. We agreed that I'd pay him back, but there was not much income coming in while my place was being renovated. Well this turned into longer than expected, and the days are simply going on and on getting simply too much to pay for. They will not give him back and I don't have my service dog with me. I am more than willing to start a payment plan, any advice?



A:


A person who believes that his/her animal is being wrongfully withheld can sue for the return of the animal. Interestingly, several years ago the Office of the Texas Attorney General responded to a similar question, not involving a pet sitter, but a veterinarian. The question presented was, “Whether a veterinarian may refuse to return an animal if its owner is unable or unwilling to pay for the veterinary medical services rendered…” The Attorney General concluded that the animal may not be withheld under these circumstances (although noted that its decision might be different if the veterinarian complied with notice requirements in a law pertaining to veterinarians' responsibilities towards abandoned animals and the animal’s owner failed to retrieve the animal). The Attorney General also discussed the issue of abandonment and found that there was no abandonment in a situation where the owner “makes a good faith effort to arrange with the veterinarian to make installment payments and otherwise insists that he wants the animal returned.” While the Attorney General’s opinion does not pertain to pet sitters, a court might find it to be persuasive. All that said, it would probably be more cost effective in the long run to pay the pet sitter sooner rather than later as compared to filing a lawsuit. The financial obligation will not go away (and will likely increase over time) even if the court orders the return of the animal.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
My Ex-girlfriend surrendered my dogs to a shelter, how do I get them back?
Q:

My ex and I got 2 dogs when we were together and when we broke up I let her take the dogs until I found a house that will let me have pets. The other day I noticed their picture on a shelter site and when I called the shelter they said that she told them she couldn't care for them anymore and needed to find somewhere for them to go without even telling me. What can I do to get my dogs back? I need to find answers please.

A:

Have you considered asking the shelter if you could adopt the dogs or providing the shelter with proof of “ownership” and asking the shelter to return the dogs to you? They may/may not choose to do so for variety of reasons. The shelter might take the position that the dogs belonged to your ex at the time they were surrendered to the shelter (after all you acknowledge you got the dogs when you and your ex were together and the dogs were living with her after the split). The shelter may consider that there was a reason why your ex chose the shelter and not you to care for the dogs. Individuals who believe that their animals are being wrongfully withheld may sue to try to get their animals returned.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Items 31 - 40 of 697  Previous12345678910Next

 

Browse our extensive expert advice by selecting categories below:

Show Expert Advice by Topic

Animal:
Topic:
Advice Type: