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Can I call the police and have them enforce the return of my dog since I have papers still?

Q:

I rescued my dog from the pound 3 years ago. Last year I had to move into a home that would not let me have any animals. My friend agreed to keep her for me until I could get something bigger with a yard. Now I have my yard and a home for her to come home to along with her adoption papers. He will not give her back to me. Can I call the police and have them enforce it since I have papers still?

A:

Usually the police will not get involved in pet custody cases. While pet theft is illegal, oftentimes the police consider pet custody disputes between friends (or ex-friends or ex-cohabiters) to be civil matters, best left to civil litigation, not criminal prosecution. If one believes an animal is being wrongfully withheld, one can sue for the return of the animal. If there is no written agreement specifying the intent of the parties (was the ‘ownership’ of the animal being transferred or was the animal being cared for temporarily), the courts will make a determination based on the other evidence presented. While adoption papers may be considered by the courts, such papers do not definitively prove ownership since an original adopter could subsequently give an animal away and simply fail to give the original adoption papers to the new adopter.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott

 

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