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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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Owner wants back abandoned dog
Q:

I always try n help strays etc. my sons x-girlfriend asked me to watch her dog-for a few weeks while she moved  its going on 5 months now. she says she wants her back. we have fallen in love with her & her with us. recently had to have all her teeth removed. all were abcessed & roots were rotten. shes so happy here & acts like a new dog. before she growled & cowered down to everything Scared & Afraid. Do you have any advice? PLEASE. Thank you, she has dumped her 2 times before I found out. 6 months each time. no wonder the dog is so scared of everything. no stability.  ive told her so many times how happy is. ive never seen a dog do a 180 degree turn In my life in a Positive way. when I took her to the vet to get her teeth checked out - it was her 1st ever vet visit & she 9 yrs old. a weenie dog. took her 2 vet because her teeth were falling out everyday. she is now getting social. I take her to petco with my dog 3 times now to shop & she just loves it & loves life now. its breaking our hearts. she will not let me out of her sight & cries for me.  I never saw her cry for her owner. never saw owner give her attention either. Shes telling me now its her property & she'll send police.

A:

It is not uncommon for pet sitters to become very attached to the animals in their care, particularly when the care is provided for an extended period of time. Nevertheless, unless the animal’s “owner” is found to have abandoned the animal or given or sold the animal to the pet sitter, typically the pet sitter has no legal right to keep the animal. If the animal’s “owner” has not paid the pet sitter for the animal’s expenses, including, for example, extensive veterinary services, it is possible a court could order the animal’s “owner” to pay such expenses (and then sometimes the “owner” voluntarily agrees to relinquish the animal). Ideally, the parties involved in these types of disputes can reach an agreement that considers the best interests of the animal. I suggest you consult with an attorney in your area regarding next steps.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Accused of neglect
Q:

I recently surrendered my dog to an animal rescue. He has lymes disease and other reason for him being there but they are treating him and helping him. I have had my dog for 7 years and because of how skinny he got from the lymes disease and he also swolled rocks they said i neglected my dog. Why would i wait 7 years to neglect my dog. I have all paper work showing that i tried to help him with his lymes and that i tried to save him but money was the reason i couldnt do the vet. They are saying i wont get him back because of how expensive the surgery and everything else was i want him back?

A:

When an individual surrenders his/her companion animal to a rescue group or shelter, such individual generally has no legal right to get the animal returned. I hope the dog gets better. Although sometimes costly, providing one’s animal with necessary veterinary care is an essential part of being a pet “parent.” In fact, people have been prosecuted in NY for failing to obtain veterinary care for their sick animals.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Medical problems with my puppy
Q:

Hello! we bought our puppy from a family in Woodland WA and they told us she was completely healthy with no medical problems other than being the runt. now two months into having her we find out she has a serious liver condition. she needs surgery and needs to be on medication for the rest of her life. this family will no longer contact me when i have questions about the mom and dad. do we have legal rights to ask for our money back or do anything to find out if this liver disease is in one of the parents? or do we have legal rights to do anything since we already paid for her and she is ours?

A:

There are laws in several states granting rights to individuals who purchase sick dogs and cats from pet shops and certain breeders (including, for example,  a purchase price refund or reimbursement for veterinary costs—although the laws generally contain caps on the reimbursement). Even without specific pet sale laws, there are general laws relating to the sale of “goods” (including animals) when such sales are made by “merchants” (persons normally engaged in the business of selling such goods). These laws provide consumers with protection when the “goods” are not as warranted or basically were unfit for purchase. When an individual purchases an animal from another individual (not a merchant) and the animal becomes ill (or is diagnosed as having a congenital disorder) it can be very difficult for the purchaser to get compensated. A court may be sympathetic to a purchaser if it can be shown that the seller knew that the animal was sick and lied about it.  While being a pet “parent” can be financially costly, the rewards in love and companionship far exceed the monetary costs. Good luck with your new family member.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Changed Ownership
Q:

My question is I was in a real life crises in july 2014. I left state leaving my dog with a friend. My dog got out,animal control called I told them I'm out of state. Friend no where to be found or contact. My dog was placed I'm shelter told same thing I'll do my best to get her out...well shelter ended up adopting her out July 18th. When I DID NOT tell them to release or adopt her out. That's my dog. I can called home again told me she had new ownership. Contacted director of shelter told me nothing I can do. Please its been almost a year I been searching for my dog.

A:

There is generally a legal hold time at animal control/shelters before an animal can be adopted out or euthanized. It is incumbent on “owners” of those animals who end up at shelters to redeem their animals on time. Shelters typically will not voluntarily release the name of a new adopter to a prior “owner.” A prior “owner” can sue and attempt to get this information but absent extenuating circumstances (such as Hurricane Katrina where so many animals and people were displaced) or a situation where the hold time was not followed, it is not likely that a court would order the release of the adopter’s name. I suggest you consult with an attorney in your state.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can vet refuse to give me pet records?
Q:

I took my 2yr old female dachshund to vet because of stomach bloat. They charged me $268 (had coupon for free 1st visit that saved me $55), for blood work and us fast test etc. The vet said it was diet related, yet pup has ate same diet for 2 yrs and never had this problem before? I don't agree with her,because its been 4 days now, diets changed, and pups still getting worse. I thot she may have open perthero? I was totally panicked/frantic and misplaced my wallet/c/cards, in the midst of rushing her to vet at 7am.  I only paid $105 cash i had in pocket, & i signed promissory note for balance. I told them I ordered replacement cards and they would be here in 4-5 days or so, and would pay balance then. I cant afford another full vet bill, so i asked for her records, so i could research it myself. They refused due to my bills not paid in full. I also sent 2 emails to vet with list of ??'s re: her visit, that I needed answered so I could research further,but have heard nothing back, and Dr. Knows her condition is getting worse, and time is vital!! Is it legal for them to refuse to give me her records?

A:

I hope by the time this response reaches your eyes, your dog is better. Washington State’s Administrative Code provides, “When requested by the owner or authorized agent, copies of records will be made available as promptly as required by medical necessity or public health circumstances, but no later than ten working days upon the owner or authorized agent's request.” The veterinarian may charge a small copying fee. Complaints against veterinarians may be made to the Washington State Veterinary Board of Governors (which is under the auspices of the Department of Health).


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Gave a deposit but dog is sick
Q:

I gave this lady Doberman breeder a deposit of $220.00 she wrote me the day before I was to pick up the dog and give her the rest of the money and told me the dog had ringworm so I asked for my $220.00 back she said she would return my deposit but now she won't return my money what do I do? please help!

A:

For starters, you might consider adopting a homeless animal from a shelter or rescue group! Small Claims Court is a user friendly and inexpensive way to attempt to resolve disputes that cannot be settled in a more amicable way.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Store contract to buy a puppy
Q:

I bought a puppy from a store and signed a contract stating the puppy was not sick, when in fact the puppy was sick and the store has paid vet bills but I signed a contract that is false. Am I still obligated to pay the 3rd party finance company that has no idea the dog was even sick?

A:

Maryland and many other states have laws which provide remedies to individuals who purchase a sick dog from a pet store (some states’ laws apply to cats too). In Maryland,  purchasers have specific remedies if within 14 days after the sale date a licensed veterinarian (who examined the dog within 7 days after the sale date) states in writing that the dog suffers from or died from an illness which adversely affects the dog’s health or if within 180 days from the sale date a licensed veterinarian states in writing that the dog possesses or died from a hereditary condition that required hospitalization or a non-elective surgical procedure. The remedies include retaining the dog and being reimbursed by the pet store for veterinary fees, not exceeding the dog’s purchase price, returning the dog for another dog of comparable value, or returning the dog for a full refund of the purchase price. Consumers also have rights under general sales laws, such as the Uniform Commercial Code, which do not have the same time specifications contained in the pet sale laws. If a consumer cannot resolve a pet sale fee dispute with the seller, he/she can file a complaint with the Maryland Attorney General (which also has the full text of the law online). Sometimes these issues are litigated in courts, including Small Claims Court. When finance companies are involved, I suggest discussing the issue with the finance company as they have various policies on challenging charges.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Pug at work
Q:

I have been bringing my Pug (fully trained) to work on my two 17 hour shifts for a little over a year. Just today, they say the policy is changing and in 20 days I can no longer bring her to work.  I cant leave her at home for 17 hours nor do I no anyone here to stay or let her out. Is this right?

A:

Normally an employer can have a no-pets policy. However, no-pets policies are not applicable to service animals accompanying a person with a disability. Service animals are not considered pets under the law. Service animals include animals trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. Federal and state laws require most employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. For further information regarding employment discrimination, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Arizona Attorney General Civil Rights Division, and/or an attorney in your area.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Unlawful?
Q:

My dog got out of my fence. A neighbor found him and handed him over to a woman that volunteers in a shelter. The woman was contacted that we were on our way over to get the dog.  She ran to the police station.  We then went to the police station.  She started demanding proof of ownership.  We had pics on our phone of him etc.  She refused to turn the dog over. The police got involved and told her she cant keep property that doesn't belong to her.  She argued with the police but eventually turned him over to us.  She then wrote me nasty emails saying that the police were wrong.  She didn't even have my dog for more than 24 hours.  She berated me and accused me of potentially using him in a pit bull fighting ring. 
Any type of motion I can file?

A:

It is not unusual for a shelter volunteer or employee to request proof of “ownership” before returning a dog. Also, at times shelter employees/volunteers and other individuals express concern about an animal based on the animal’s condition and/or conversations with individuals who have observed the  animal's care. I think you should be thankful that your dog was found and returned to you. I suggest that you properly secure your fence.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can we keep roommates cats if we feel they will be mistreated in new home?
Q:

Our roommates have 2 cats that she doesn't take care of very well. She is moving in with her brother soon who has threatened harm to the animals before. Do we have any grounds to keep them if we know they are going to a home where they will be neglected and possibly abused?

A:

A person generally does not have the legal right to take another person’s animal based on speculation that the animal will not get proper care. These situations can sometimes be resolved through discussions with the animal’s “owner” and offering to adopt/buy the animal. If one suspects animal abuse or neglect, local law enforcement authorities should be contacted. Animal abuse and neglect are illegal in every state. In many jurisdictions, societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCA) and animal control officers in addition to the police/sheriff have authority to investigate animal abuse/neglect complaints.
 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
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