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Do I have any rights to a friend's dog I am boarding?

Q:

I have a friend who asked me to look after his dog after a breakup left him without stable housing. The dog has been with me for 3 weeks and a limit was not determined. She was never socialized and is iffy with my dog and HORRIBLE with dogs outside, she is leash reactive, she is food reactive and she suffers from extreme anxiety. Nothing was done in her entire year of life to help her with any of this. He provides her food but nothing else. I have had to buy her a harness, water, treats, etc and handle her vet care. What, if any, rights do I have to the dog if I did not want to send her back to him? I honestly believe she is neglected emotionally. She is fed but there is much more to caring for a dog than food.

A:

I agree that caring for a dog humanely requires much more than providing food. However, when one agrees to temporarily care for another person’s animal, the caretaker usually does not gain ‘ownership’ rights to that animal unless the ‘owner’ consents. There are a few exceptions. Several states have enacted laws to provide that an animal can be deemed abandoned when left for boarding or at a veterinary hospital and not retrieved within a certain amount of time after the scheduled release date or after being informed (letters are usually required) that the animal is ready to be discharged. Additionally, animal ‘ownership’ rights can sometimes be terminated after a person is convicted of animal cruelty. Consider discussing your concerns with your friend. I hope you can work out an arrangement that is in the best interests of the dog.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott

 

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