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!

animal

Facebook Instagram YouTube Twitter
    
   

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

Pet Legal Advisor Elinor Molbegott

Elinor D. Molbegott is an attorney who maintains a law practice devoted to animal law.  Elinor answers questions related to animal law for the Animal League that help our supporters learn more about pet law.

If you're a Member, here's your chance to ask Elinor a legal question related to a pet.

Elinor will field and answer as many animal law questions as she can. Responses to questions are posted on this site and not e-mailed directly to the person who submitted the question. Due to the volume of questions received, not all questions are answered. However, many individuals have similar questions. You may find helpful information here even if your specific question is not posted.

Please note that responses to legal inquiries are not meant to replace seeking legal advice from an attorney in your state. The materials in this website and any responses to questions are for informational purposes only and are not intended, nor should they be construed, as legal advice. This website, the information contained herein, and any responses to questions directed to this column are not intended to create and do not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should not rely or act upon any information provided on this website or in any response to your inquiry without seeking the advice of an attorney in your state regarding the facts of your specific situation.

 

Browse the latest Pet Legal Q&As:

Won't return lost dog.
Q:

My Yorkie went missing. I posted signs & rcvd a mess. from someone who said their brother found her & gave her to their Aunt. I'll admit my dogs hair was in dire need of grooming as well as her nails, but due to a new baby in the house, my out of state wedding & traveling for the holidays I did not have the time to get her rabies shot updated so we could get her to the groomer. The lady said they don't want to return the dog because of her condition when they found her. She is not malnourished, just in need of grooming. I have receipts to prove I paid well over $1000.00 for her. What can I do?

A:

People who believe that their animals are being wrongfully withheld can commence a civil lawsuit for the return of their animals or sue for monetary damages (such as for the cost of the dog). People can also contact the police. Before trying to have the dog removed from her current home, consider whether you really have the time to provide the dog with the care she needs. First, the dog went missing which can indicate that the dog was not being adequately supervised. Second, the dog was �in dire need of grooming as well as her nails.� Grooming is not only for cosmetic purposes. Failure to groom certain breeds and to have nails clipped can cause health problems, pain, and discomfort. I hope the dog is doing well.< /p>
Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott

Previous owners took dog back without refunding money.
Q:

So me, my partner, and brother-in-law went to pick an american bull dog up. Me and my partner paid £80 for her, and the following day they were asking for her back. My partner didnt have the chance to message back as he had to work, whilst my partner was in work they had gone to my brother-in-laws after contacting him about the dog to pick her up. We didn't tell my brother-in-law about paying for her as they were having financial struggles and really wanted a dog for his partner and their children. The previous owners had picked the dog up and not paid the money back. What can I do about this as my brother-in-law is devastated. Really, I would like her back.

A:

I suggest you consult with an attorney in your country. People who believe that their animal is being wrongfully withheld can sue to try to get the animal back. People can also sue for money if that is their preference.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How can we put dogs up for adoption if there is joint ownership with ex?
Q:

I have a question about custody, however it's a bit different than the typical inquiries. My boyfriend adopted dogs with his ex girlfriend. His ex refuses to leave us alone and uses the dogs to continue to be connected. She'll say she's going to come pick the dogs up and keep them but never follows through. She's been told repeatedly that he cannot keep the dogs but refused to sign paperwork surrendering them and refuses to take them herself. Unfortunately, she's a bit crazy and we cannot continue to handle this in the relationship. The dogs are suffering as well. What process does he need to go through (certified letters etc) where he can be able to put the dogs up for adoption? Currently rescues will not take the dogs due to her having part ownership of them. Would there be a process that we can take on as she refuses to be responsive?

A:

Yes, this is a not a typical inquiry. Most custody related questions involve people who both want the same animal. It is certainly a shame that your boyfriend�s dogs are suffering. After all, your boyfriend did adopt the dogs and should be providing the dogs with humane care, even if the co-owner is not doing her part. Hopefully this situation can be worked out amicably but, if not, I suggest that your boyfriend consider retaining an attorney in his state who may be able to commence a legal proceeding for a declaratory judgment (asking the court to declare the rights of the parties). In the meantime, provide the dogs with a loving home. Failure to do so not only is inhumane but may also violate animal cruelty/neglect laws. Good luck!


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Who is responsible for cat bite after cat was given away?
Q:

I gave away a kitten with the areement I would take her back. Within a few hours she had bitten them. The police say I am responsible. How can this be true? at the time of the bite she was their cat.

A:

It is unclear why the police would be involved as this does not appear to be a criminal matter. Generally, a person who gives away his/her animal is not responsible for an animal bite that occurs after the adoption. However, if a person knows that an animal has a biting history (not including teething which is common with kittens and puppies) and fails to disclose it or lies about it to the adopter, a court might hold otherwise.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Former foster refuses to return dog to Rescue.
Q:

One of our volunteers is fostering one of our Rescue's dogs. She has failed to respond to the 20 approved applicants interested in this dog. She finally responded to us that she is no longer interested in working with our Rescue organization. We asked her if she will chose an adopter from the many applicants, or adopt this dog herself and she will not respond. We have been covering all this dog's medical bills, and the dog has been listed on Petfinder under our name for months. As a registered charity devoted to saving dogs, we prefer not to spend money on lawyers. What are our options? This is NYS - will the police help? It's essentially theft, is it not?

A:

The police will typically not get involved in pet fostering and pet custody disputes. New York's animal stealing law (section 366 of the Agriculture and Markets Law) covers situations such as enticing or seizing animals out of their homes or enclosures or from a person. When the police will not intervene, people can commence a civil action for the return of an animal they believe is being wrongfully withheld. Although it is preferable to have attorney representation in these cases, it is not required. Court clerks are sometimes very helpful. Of course, in order to prove that a person is wrongfully withholding an animal, a written agreement specifying the rights and obligations of the parties would be useful. Often when there is only a verbal agreement, the disputing parties have different versions of the agreement.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
My ex wants to have shared custody of my dog.
Q:

I rescued my dog from a home that couldn't care for him. His microchip and vet records are all in my name. I just broke up with my boyfriend and now he wants to take me to court for custody. I do not have adoption papers as there was no fee, I simply brought him home. Does he have any ground? He has paid a vet bill here and there. He says he wants to see my dog on a schedule like a child, and if I dont agree and let him he will take me to court. Any advice? This is really stressing me out as he is only 4 and I cannot maintain communication with an ex for the next 8 years over my dog.

A:

Generally when roommates split, each can leave with possessions that they bought (although complications can arise with “shared” animals and when one person alleges that the animal was a gift). A person who believes he/she has “ownership” rights to an animal can sue to try to get the animal returned or “visitation” (although some courts have said they would not order pet visitation or enforce a pet visitation agreement). For example, one NY court stated, “The extension of an award of possession of a dog to include visitation or joint custody—components of child custody designed to keep both parents firmly involved in the child's life—would only serve as an invitation for endless post-divorce litigation, keeping the parties needlessly tied to one another and to the court...” Sometimes in pet custody cases, courts have also considered the best interests of the animals. Good luck!


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Does new owner have to relinquish dog if they change mind?
Q:

Can a person give her dog away to someone else,then a month later decide they want it back? Does the new owner have to relinquish the dog back after it was given to her?

A:

Generally when a person gives his/her animal away, such person has no further rights to that animal unless there was an agreement stating otherwise.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Whose cat is it?
Q:

This girl couldn't take care of her cat due to the fact the apartments do not allow cats. She gave me her cat and she dropped him off at my house. I decided to rename him and she got upset. She threatened to take him away since she has all his paperwork and the microchip information. She does not have a place qualified to take care of him.

A:

Generally when a person gives away or sells his/her animal, such person has no further rights to that animal. Having the agreement in writing can help to avoid future conflicts regarding the animal�s �ownership.� Microchip, license, and other registration and veterinary records should be changed when �ownership� changes. Even if they are not changed, an animal�s microchip and license registration and other indicia of �ownership� do not always prove �ownership,� particularly when there is evidence that subsequent to registering the animal�s microchip or license, the animal was sold, given away, or abandoned.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How can I get replacement AKC papers?
Q:

Cousin give me a pair of AKC boxers, however he said he can't find the papers for the dogs. How can I get those AKC papers?

A:

Contact AKC. There is a procedure for replacement paperwork. Next time consider adopting a homeless animal from a shelter/rescue.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
What can be done for abandoned dog?
Q:

My cousin has been caring for a dog for 11 months without any financial compensations or reply to texts from the owners. The vet will not treat dog without documentation from owner. What can be done? Is this a case of abandonment?

A:

First, try another veterinarian. People who board animals are responsible for providing the animals with humane treatment and can be prosecuted for neglecting animals in their care. It would be up to a court to definitively decide whether under the facts and circumstances the �owner� abandoned an animal. Sometimes this issue is addressed in the boarding agreement and sometimes by law (some states in addition to criminal animal abandonment laws have laws requiring veterinarians or others who board animals to give written notice to an �owner� that the animal will be deemed abandoned within a certain number of days). Hawaii�s criminal animal abandonment law states: �It shall be unlawful for the owner of any animal or any person in possession of an animal that belongs to another person to leave the animal without the intention of returning to it. Any person who violates this section shall be guilty of a petty misdemeanor.�


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Items 11 - 20 of 743  Previous12345678910Next