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Anything we can legally do to get an adopted out dog back from the owner?

Q:

I work for a small non-profit. We adopted out a timid dog to a woman with a boyfriend, she knew the dog had issues especially with men but wanted to be "the one" to break her out of her shell. She said it wasn't working out and we agreed to take the dog back. Now the day before she was going to drop the dog off she said that she has found a foster home for her and she will not tell us where or who the dog is going with and has told us to leave her alone. In our contract it does state that any animals adopted out have to come back to us but it does also state that after 6 months we will not take an animal back. Is there anything we can do legally?

A:

Lawsuits for the return of animals are sometimes brought when animals are unlawfully withheld. If the case is based on a breach of contract and the language of the contract is confusing, it is likely a court would construe the ambiguous contract provision in a manner most favorable to the person who did not draft the ambiguous language. If the adopter gave the animal away within the first six months after adoption, your case may be stronger. Of course, these cases can be difficult when the person being sued no longer has the animal. The court must decide whether to require the release of the second adopter’s name. I suggest you re-word your contract for future adoptions.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott

 

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