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!


Facebook Instagram YouTube Twitter

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

Do I have the right to sue?


I need legal advice regarding an incident that occurred about a year ago. While I was at work, my grandfather took my two chocolate lab dogs to a veterinarian office near my house and paid for them to be euthanized without my knowledge or permission. The veterinarians clinic that he took them to didn't ask for any proof that those dogs were his (which they are registered by the county under my name). So regardless while I was at work without my knowledge or permission they were put to sleep. These dogs were like my family to me. They were my therapy dogs. After this incident I have been to the doctor several times and I am now on medication for my depression and PTSD. The veterinarians office failed to check proof for who the dogs belonged to, just let a random person bring in two random dogs and put them to sleep without even second looking over anything. Do I have the right to sue the facility for not seeing proof of ownership before euthanizing my two dogs?


hen a person who is not an animal’s ‘owner’ authorizes euthanasia of the animal, such person may be charged with violating criminal laws (for example, theft) and may also be subject to a civil lawsuit for monetary compensation. In such a civil lawsuit, one may also seek punitive damages (which are sometimes awarded when one’s actions were intentional and malicious). In one reported case, the court found in favor of the dog’s ‘owner’ against the person who authorized euthanasia (after the veterinarian stated that the dog had serious eye problems and a poor eyesight prognosis). The veterinarian was not sued (and it was not clear what the veterinarian knew about the dog’s ‘ownership). Generally a veterinarian will know an animal’s ‘owner’ before being asked to euthanize the animal because the animal has been a patient. Otherwise, it would be advisable for a veterinarian to establish ‘ownership’ before euthanizing an animal. When a person brings an animal to a veterinarian for euthanasia, such person is normally required to sign a form indicating that he/she is the animal’s ‘owner.’ It is possible your family member did this. Also, a court may consider that a veterinarian’s actions were not unreasonable when a family member of the ‘owner’ signs a euthanasia authorization, although agreeing to euthanize healthy animals raises other legal and ethical issues.

Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott


Browse our extensive expert advice:

Show Advice by Topic

Advice Type: