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How can I make sure my ex-wife gets custody of my dog if it's not stated in my will?
Q:

I am going to have a big surgery next week, and I am not sure if I will make it or not. I already wrote a will, but my dog is not in it. I want to give my dog to my ex-wife after my death. What should I do to give her the legal rights to have my dog and stop any one else from taking it? As I said, I wrote a will before but the dog was never mentioned in it. Please advise and fast PLEAAAASE.

A:

Many states, including Connecticut, have laws allowing for the establishment of trusts for animals. I strongly suggest consulting with an attorney in your state who can draft a new Will, codicil to your existing Will, or living trust which provides for your dog. Best of luck!
 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How Do I Prepare for My New Adopted Dog?
Q:

When I bring my newly adopted dog home, what are some important things to remember?

A:

Dogs are pack animals that live by social hierarchy. When a dog enters a new home he is looking for that structure. It is important for obedience and stability that the dog sees all the people in the family as leaders.

To help establish yourselves as leader don't allow the dog on furniture since this puts the dog on the same level as you. Don't use baby talk. To you it might convey affection, but to the dog it's not perceived as leadership. As you move around your home, go through the doors first and allow your dog to follow you. Teach the dog to wait at the door and when he is responding say "let's go" to clearly signal that you'll both going somewhere together.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Vincent Buscemi
Is Puppy Play Biting Normal?
Q:

Is puppy play biting normal?

A:

Play biting or mouthing is a normal attention-seeking behavior that puppies use to be noticed and play with littermates. If your dog is too rough, typically another puppy will either bite back harder or "shun" the dog by ignoring him and walking away. Since dogs are "pack animals," which means they are born in a litter and live by a social hierarchy, when a dog enters a new home he perceives his new family as his pack of littermates.

He will get the attention the same way he would with his real littermates, by using his mouth. When a puppy puts teeth on flesh or clothing, they should be corrected effectively, consistently and swiftly so they can think twice about the consequence the next time they have the urge to grab and play bite. A good correction is a "shaker can" (empty soda can filled with some coins) which you use by shaking, without the puppy seeing you, if he/she should go to mouth you.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Vincent Buscemi
How can I train my puppy to eliminate outside?
Q:

My 5-month-old puppy won’t eliminate outside. She will only urinate. What should I do?

A:

Where is the puppy defecating? If it is going back to a specific spot in the home, that spot should be cleaned thoroughly with a product such as Natures Miracle or 50% vinegar/water solution to prevent the puppy from being drawn to that same spot. Vigilance and consistency are the keys to housebreaking. Maintain a consistent schedule for the housebreaking routine. This will help your dog anticipate the time he/she is going to need to eliminate and help you predict as well. Feed the dog at the same time every day. Leave the food down for a half hour only. Do not leave food down all the time, as it will cause the dog’s elimination habits to be erratic. Take the dog out on a leash within fifteen minutes of eating to the same spot where he/she has urinated. Give them ample time to go. If the dog does not go, they should be supervised when being brought back into the house to avoid an uncorrectable accident and then given another housebreak walk in fifteen minutes. Use a training crate as a housebreaking aid when you can not physically watch the dog.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Vincent Buscemi
How can I calm my excited dog during car rides?
Q:

I have an 11-month-old, male, neutered Labrador retriever named Pete that I adopted from a shelter when he was 4 1/2 months old. Pete is fairly high strung. He is well-socialized and goes out every day for hikes or the dog park for at least 45 minutes to an hour twice a day. His only major issue is that he gets so excited for our “outings” that he whines and cries in the car. He is too wild to be loose in the car, so he rides in his crate in the back. How can I calm him down in the car? I've tried taking him on many “rides to nowhere”, given him toys in crate, etc. What can I do?

A:

Riding in the crate is a good decision and the safest and best method of transport for an excited dog. I would start over by reconditioning your dog to riding in the car. Get him used to the car without actually going anywhere. Get in the car with him when the car is parked in the driveway or on the street. Reward him with a treat and praise him for being quiet. You want to emphasize the term “good quiet” when rewarding him with the treat. Repeat this a few times without starting the car or driving anywhere. After doing this a few times, try a short car ride and try walking your dog home. You want to keep using the term “good quiet” and continue using the treats as rewards. Gradually increase the length of the rides and continue to use treats and praise along with “good quiet”. The key to success is consistency and patience. Pete is a young, energetic dog that requires a lot of exercise. You may have to increase his exercise before going for the car rides, and just remember that eventually he will calm down as he leaves puppyhood.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Vincent Buscemi
How can I legally adopt cat left in our care for 2 years?
Q:

My husband's friends dropped there cat off for what was supposed to be a couple weeks to a few months. It has now been 2 years and still they are not responding to our calls or texts asking when they will be picking up their cat. At this point we want to legally adopt the cat as she has become a member of our family and our kids are very, very attached to her. Since we can not get hold of the the original owners and don't want them showing up out of no where to pick up the cat, we would like to make it legal. How would we go about adopting her legally? Thank you.

A:

While one can enter into an animal adoption or foster agreement with an animal shelter, rescue group or individual, I know of no other legal mechanism to adopt an animal one already has. When custody disputes arise, courts typically consider who “owns” the animal. Such factors as who purchased or adopted the animal, who paid for the animal’s care, who has been the animal’s primary caretaker, and under whose name the animal is registered, microchipped and licensed will be considered as well as evidence regarding whether the animal been given away, sold or abandoned. Some courts have also considered the best interests of the animal. I believe that unless there are extenuating circumstances, most courts would find that a person who left an animal in another person’s care for a couple of weeks but failed to pick up the animal for a couple of years has abandoned that animal and has no further rights to the animal. In these situations, the person with whom an animal was abandoned would not normally hand over the animal to the original ‘owner’ just because the original ‘owner’ showed up two years later.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Friend won't give dog back after return form military deployment.
Q:

I left my dog with a friend during my military deployment. And now, she has him registered to her name and won't give him back. I never signed him over to her, she was just watching him. What can I do?

A:

One can sue for the return of an animal if he/she believes that his/her animal is being wrongfully withheld.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How can I get my cats back from shelter, after I mistakenly gave them up?
Q:

I had 2 cats for 11 years. I made a horrible mistake and I gave them to a Foster rescue Shelter. I have Anxiety/Depression and I wasn't thinking straight at the time. I have asked this foster many times to please give me back my cats. She won't.S he said they're not my cats anymore. I never signed anything. Do I have any rights to get them back? I'm under a doctors care since they left.

A:

Generally when one surrenders an animal to an animal rescue group, the person surrendering the animal does not have any further rights to that animal. However, usually these agreements are in writing so the rights of each party are clear. When the agreements are not in writing and the issue of ‘ownership’ is litigated, courts will consider the evidence and determine the rights of the respective parties.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Do I have any rights against crematorium or vet for wrongful cremation of my dog?
Q:

My sweet dog declined rapidly from cancer and I had to have her put to sleep. I made arrangements to have her body picked up by a local pet cemetery so that she could be buried there, they would be able to pick her up on Friday (3 days later). I even asked the vet office if that would be OK with them, and stated I would take her body home if she could not be kept there that long. They assured me that she could be kept at the vets office until pick up and they confirmed with the pet cemetery before I left. The vet even said to me "we'll take good care of this kid". I was informed yesterday after the pet cemetery called to say that they were coming to pick her up, they went to find her body "and it wasn't there." They informed me that my Sophie had been picked up by the office's crematorium 2 days before and has already been mass cremated with several other dogs. I am heart broken and devastated, not only do I not get to lay her body to rest, I don't even get her ashes. They were so cold about it stating that "there was a note on her, the truck driver shouldn't have picked her up
", and then had the gall to say they would help with the fees for adopting another pet!!!!!  And of course the crematorium is claiming there was no such note. But it was also implied that the driver who picks up the dogs on a regular basis does not check with the anyone at the vet office before leaving with all of the dogs. How can this be, this simple act would have stopped this tragedy. Do I have any legal grounds with what happened. I want to make sure this can never happen to anyone else.

A:

I am so sorry to her about your dog’s passing as well as the loss of her body. There was a similar case in NY many years ago. Arrangements were made for a veterinary hospital to transfer the dog’s remains to an organization that maintained a pet cemetery. Upon opening the casket at the dog's funeral, the dog's guardian found the remains of a dead cat. The court, in awarding the plaintiff monetary compensation for her loss, held that the plaintiff “did suffer shock, mental anguish and despondency due to the wrongful destruction and loss of the dog’s body. She had an elaborate funeral scheduled and planned to visit the grave in the years to come. She was deprived of this right.” In addition to suing, one can also file a complaint with the Missouri Veterinary Medical Board. There is a complaint form online.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Kennel says I abandoned my dog.
Q:

I had my dog in a kennel and was unable to get her back because it was too much money. They sent me an email saying I legally abandoned her and I have no rights to her now. Is there anyway I can get her back?

A:

There is a California law which states, in part, that “…whenever any animal is delivered to any veterinarian, dog kennel, …or any other animal care facility pursuant to any written or oral agreement…and the owner of such animal does not pick up the animal within 14 calendar days after the day the animal was due to be picked up, the animal shall be deemed to be abandoned….” There is a discussion of this law and California’s lien law on the California Veterinary Medical Association’s website which states that, “One contingency, however, is that if the owner attempts physically to retrieve the animal or otherwise contact the veterinary facility, or give notice of intent to retrieve the animal within the initial 14-day period, even though the veterinarian’s bill has not been paid, the animal cannot be considered to be abandoned.” Sometimes animal care facilities are willing to work out payment plans and sometimes these disputes can be worked out if negotiated by an attorney or a lawsuit is commenced (although that sometimes can cost more than the debt).


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
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