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:

What legal action can I take to get dog back from my aunt?
Q:

I had to give my dog away because we were moving. My aunt took him under the agreement that if she didn't want him that he be returned to me. She got a puppy and gave my dog to someone else. I asked for him back and she said that she has him back now and is refusing to give him back to me. I have his papers, vet documents, and eye witnesses of the agreement that was said along with messages stating that she gave him away and the agreement. What legal actions can I take to get my dog back if she refuses to give him to me after telling her I would get my lawyer involved?

A:

People who believe that their animals are being wrongfully withheld can sue (replevin action) for the return of their animals. However, generally when a person gives his/her animal away, such person has no further rights to the animal unless there was an agreement providing otherwise (and verbal agreements can be difficult to prove). In any event, it sounds as if at least for now your aunt has complied with the verbal agreement since you indicated that she now has the dog. In the future, consider your pets in your moving plans. Regrets do not equal rights and it is often very difficult to undo one�s actions. I hope the dog is doing well.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can I sue vet for negligence after injuring my cat?
Q:

Got our cat back from vet and cat could not walk, he could walk fine when we took him in. Brought him back next day and vet rammed thermometer in cats anus so hard cat screamed, did it again and cat screamed again. Vet said that was normal. Took x-rays and found vet had broken cats pelvis in three places. They had cat for 4-5 hours and never gave any pain meds. Cost $10,000 to fix cat with 3 metal plates, 25 screws and a bone graft. Can I sue vet for negligence?

A:

Veterinarians can be sued for malpractice and negligence. In such a lawsuit, one could seek compensation for veterinary and other expenses incurred as a result of the veterinarian�s malpractice/negligence. Courts tend not to award money for emotional distress. In one California case, the �owner� of a dog who died as a result of a veterinarian�s malpractice was awarded $39,000 (although generally awards are much lower). Complaints against veterinarians can also be made to the state�s veterinary licensing board (in Oregon, the Veterinary Medical Examining Board). I hope your cat is feeling better.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How can I legally adopt a dog abandoned at kennel?
Q:

I work as a veterinary technician at a veterinary hospital in California. We have had a dog boarding with us for a few months and the owner is about 6 weeks behind on paying, and has not answered or returned calls. The dog is left boarding in a kennel meant to house dogs temporarily, not for unbeknownst lengths of time. I was wondering the process required to adopt said dog and how to legally go about doing so? Thank you for your time!

A:

The California Veterinary Medical Association has issued an explanation of the laws regarding abandonment of animals left for boarding. See http://law.onecle.com/california/civil/1834.5.html. The law provides that an animal left for boarding will be deemed abandoned if not retrieved within 14 days after the animal was scheduled to be picked up. The law further provides that �The person into whose custody the animal was placed for care shall first try for a period of not less than 10 days to find a new owner for the animal or turn the animal over to a public animal control agency or shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter, humane society shelter, or nonprofit animal rescue group, provided that the shelter or rescue group has been contacted and has agreed to take the animal. If unable to place the animal with a new owner, shelter, or rescue group, the animal care facility may have the abandoned animal euthanized.� The law further provides that �There shall be a notice posted in a conspicuous place, or in conspicuous type in a written receipt given, to warn a person depositing an animal at an animal care facility of the provisions of this section.� There are also lien laws (explained in the link above) allowing for sales of animals not retrieved on time, although the animal�s �owner� must first be given notice prior to any such sale.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
What are my rights to keep dog I've been fostering?
Q:

Fostering a dog for a rescue, I never signed a contract or foster application. They are demanding dog back, been with me 2.5 months. Dog taken from shelter under rescue name, but I never signed anything. What are my rights? Do I have to give her back? Rescue never contacted me until Thursday, dog not fixed, month behind in heartworm prevention. But they say I am unfit. Need help!! Scared for the dog! She is loved!! I need to know my rights. They don't even have my address. Threatening me with the police.

A:

Typically an animal�s foster care �parent,� as compared to an adopter, does not �own� the fostered animal. Usually a foster care agreement will contain provisions regarding the rights and responsibilities of the parties, including, for example, who is responsible for providing the animal with necessary veterinary care. It is unclear why the rescue suddenly believes you are unfit, unless its understanding was that you, not the rescue, were responsible for getting the dog spayed or neutered and giving the dog heartworm medicine. It is unclear why a rescue would give possession to a foster care �parent� without having a correct address or following up on the dog�s care for more than two months. It is difficult to say if the police will get involved. They typically will not if they believe there is just a pet custody dispute, but they might if they are convinced an animal was stolen. Sometimes individuals and organizations commence civil lawsuits for the return of an animal that they believe is being wrongfully withheld. How a court decides who �owns� an animal depends on the evidence presented (such as, was the animal only fostered and not adopted, did the rescue abandon the animal, is the animal being neglected or otherwise mistreated). I hope the dog is doing well.< /p>
Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott

Neighbor turned cat in to animal shelter.
Q:

My HOA states that cats must be supervised outside. However in the past 4 months that I have lived here I have seen 6+ cats out and about. I let my 14 year old cat out first thing in the morning and then he comes back in before I leave for work; however one day, he didn't. The HOA president took my cat to the local animal shelter. The staff there questioned him about bringing the cat in and stated they felt sure the cat belonged to someone in the neighborhood. He stated he thought so too but didn't know who. He is my next door neighbor. Does he have the right to turn in my cat?

A:

I hope your cat is safe and sound now! Pet cats unsupervised outside can get run over, lost, mistreated, and the list goes on. The fact that other people in your HOA allow their cats outdoors unsupervised in violation of HOA rules does not make it right. People who find animals may bring them to local shelters. A person who intentionally steals a neighbor�s cat may face criminal charges depending on the circumstances, but that is less likely if the animal is brought to a shelter. Lost, stray, abandoned, and wandering dogs and cats are brought to shelters all of the time, many by caring people who find them and don�t want to leave them in the street. < /p>
Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott

How can I track down adoption paperwork if shelter is no longer in business?
Q:

I am trying to recover the original adoption papers from the place I adopted my dog, but they are no longer in business. Is there somewhere they were required to file the documents, ie, the state, county ect? My signature is on the adoption papers and I need that document as proof of ownership, trying to prepare for court to get my best friend back, please help

A:

While there are laws throughout the country requiring certain animal shelters (such as government funded shelters) to maintain statistics on animals adopted, returned to �owners,� euthanized, or transferred to another shelter/rescue, etc., I am not aware of laws requiring animal adoption applications and agreements to be filed with a governmental agency (although municipal shelters may be subject to freedom of information laws [FOIL] and records can sometimes be accessed through a FOIL request).


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
How can I get my dog back from Animal Control?
Q:

I recently moved and left my dog at my sisters house until we had everything moved and some unpacked. My fur baby is 10 yrs old and doesn't do well with confusion. Animal control was contacting regarding my sisters house and they had a warrant to take all animals on site including my dog. How do I get my dog back?

A:

Time is often of the essence in these situations. I suggest that you immediately contact animal control to try to retrieve your animal. If animal control will not return your dog immediately, consult with an attorney in your area now. Sometimes seized animals are held pending a court case but sometimes not depending on the circumstances and whether the alleged �owner� of the animals signed a written surrender. Also, sometimes animals may be deemed forfeited if after a seized animal hearing the animal's �owner� fails to comply with an order to make payment for the reasonable cost of caring for the seized animal pending the resolution of the case.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can neighbor fix my cat without my consent?
Q:

Can a neighbor take and get my cat (or dog) fixed without my consent, or even knowledge of it? What could I do if this happens?

A:

Most neighbors would not have such unfettered access to another neighbor�s animal. Also, sometimes �ownership� of an outdoor animal is not that clear. Letting one�s unspayed or unneutered dogs and cats outside without supervision exacerbates the already serious overpopulation of dogs and cats. Perhaps your neighbor wanted to avoid another litter. Individuals who believe that their animal was spayed or neutered without their authorization can sue for the difference (if any) of the animal�s monetary value as a result of the spaying/neutering (although most dogs and cats don�t have financially lucrative breeding potential and those that do are not typically outdoors unsupervised). Alternatively, be thankful that the spaying/neutering has been done.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Parents want to keep ex's dog until reimbursed boarding fees.
Q:

My parents have been taking care of my boyfriends dog while he has been out of town. He had agreed to pay for food, vet care etc. We have since broke up and the ex wants his dog back, but doesn't want to pay for his care. Do my parents have the right to keep the dog until they are reimbursed?

A:

Florida has a lien law that provides that persons feeding or caring for another person�s animals can have a lien for the care and maintenance of the animals. However, consider that as each day passes the money expended on care increases. It often can be more cost effective, particularly with dogs and cats, to return an animal and sue for the amount due. Also, unless there is a written boarding agreement which states the amount due, a court could find that the boarding was gratuitous (more so when the people know each other as in your situation).


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Former roommate/landlord won't return my cat.
Q:

Former roommate/landlord (same person) kicked me out after physically attacking me twice. Police did nothing. I had to leave immediately without any of my personal belongings. This woman did agree to care for my 2 cats until I got resettled, then ceased all communication. I provided food & attempted to retrieve my kitties several times (emails & texts prove). Sheriff has been there twice but she refuses to say who has my kitties. What can I do? I love my girls Its killing me.

A:

Individuals who believe that their animals are being wrongfully withheld can sue for the return of their animals (known as a replevin action). These cases get more complicated when the person being sued no longer has the animals, but courts may order the release of the name of the person who does have the animals and that person may sometimes be brought in the case as an additional defendant.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Items 31 - 40 of 752  Previous12345678910Next