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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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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
How long is too long to leave a dog in a kennel?
Q:

I work at a kenneling facility and am wondering the length a dog can stay in one before its considered bad. We have a dog that's been here for 8 months and her owner is in major debt with our boss (close to $2000). He hasn't brought her any food in about 4 months and only comes to visit/pay a bit once every couple of weeks. She has spent her second birthday with us and on just recently received her updated vaccinations. We are all very concerned with the situation, its not one a dog should be put through.

A:

Sometimes there are provisions in an animal boarding agreement which state when an animal will be deemed abandoned. Several states, including Wisconsin, have laws that provide a mechanism for un-retrieved animals at certain facilities to be deemed abandoned although some of these laws only reference veterinary facilities (including the Wisconsin law at section173.13). How long an animal should stay at a boarding facility before it is “bad” depends on many factors, including, of course, the care the animal is getting at the boarding facility. When pet “parents” don’t have the money to pay for the entire boarding bill, the animals sometimes get caught in the middle and are held hostage, a practice not permissible in some states. In New York, for example, if the abandonment letters are sent to the animal’s “owner” and such “owner” responds in the time allowed under the law and stated in the letter, the boarding facility must return the animal to the “owner” even if the “owner” does not pay. The facility retains a claim against the “owner” for money due. At times, an animal’s “owner” who has no place to take the animal is willing to allow a boarding facility to re-home the animal. Any such agreement should be in writing. I suggest you consult with an attorney in your state who can also review any local laws that may address this issue.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Someone is accusing my dogs of killing their cat.
Q:

My dogs ran away one day and someone accused them of killing their cat. The dogs were reported but I don't believe that my dogs killed the cat. This is in LA, is there anyway that my dogs might be put down if they are categorized as a "dangerous animal?". They have never bitten any humans but they have trust issues so they bark at everyone that comes to our house at first. (this is why i'm afraid if animal control comes they will think my babies are aggressive.)

A:

California and other states have dangerous dog laws and they vary. California’s law (as many other state laws) also permits municipalities to pass their own dangerous dog laws as long as they are at least as stringent as the state law. Sometimes these laws apply only to dog attacks against humans and sometimes against animals too. California’s law pertaining to potentially dangerous dogs includes dog attacks on other animals (so local laws in California would too). The “owner” of a dog declared potentially dangerous may have to adhere to certain conditions to keep the dog, including, for example, obedience training and secure confinement when outdoors, such as in a fenced yard, and muzzled when in public. “Owners” of dogs accused of being potentially dangerous (or vicious) are entitled to a hearing and appeals. I suggest that you consult with an attorney in your locality who can review your local law and advise you on next steps. I also strongly suggest that your dogs be supervised carefully so they do not run away again.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How can I get my dog back from a welfare animal center?
Q:

I surrendered my dog 3 days ago to the welfare animal center and i went back to claim him back but they are denied me all my rights. This dog is a pure breed german shepherd with all legal documentation and i just wanted to him back . They denied me that right and they said that first they will contact service and police agencies because this is a bright dog and then if no one takes him they might post him online for adoption and if I qualify they will consider my application of adoption.
Please I need help and I need to check if there is anything I can do to have him back.

A:

The shelter may have “denied” you your “rights” because you probably have no rights to the dog anymore. The decision to surrender an animal should not be taken lightly. It is important to understand that unless there is an agreement giving the person relinquishing an animal a certain amount of time to change his/her mind, such person usually has no further rights to the animal he/she surrendered. Also important to understand is that shelters try to find humane forever homes for the animals in their care so re-adopting an animal to a person who already surrendered the animal doesn’t happen routinely (although depending on the circumstances, some shelters may be amenable to returning an animal).


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
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