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:

Can I reclaim my dog if new owner is not caring for her?
Q:

In october I made a flyer, title: "Needs a Good Home". It was for my beloved 4-5 month old rottweiler Dakota. On it was information such as name, vaccinations, docked tail, dewclaws removed, Dakotas personality and under her information are requirements that the other people willing to care for her had to follow. 

This woman agreed to the requirements, but now I hear from her coworkers that she isn't caring for Dakota like the requirements said. Also I did NOT want Dakota being bred, but now the lady that took her hasn't gotten her spayed. I am concerned for Dakota's well-being because Dakota also had 2 false pregnancies, and I know that to cure such symptoms she would need to be spayed.

Is there anything I can do to claim back Dakota, since I am concerned for her well-being and that she isn't holding up her end of the agreement? 

We both didn't sign the flyer but there is proof of what the lady needed to do to provide Dakota with a "good home".

Please help?

A:

Unless there is a purchase/adoption agreement signed by both parties, it becomes very difficult to successfully allege a breach of an agreement and to reclaim an animal. It is very unfortunate that Dakota was not spayed before you gave her away. Sometimes people who do not bond with an animal will agree to return an animal or sell the animal to the original ‘owner.’


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
What should I do to get the Rottweiler puppy I gave away back?
Q:

I had a Rottweiler for 14 years and had to put him to sleep 4 years ago. My son showed up at my house with a 7 week old Rottweiler Christmas as a present without discussing with me. I gave the puppy away after having him for 6 weeks and now feel guilty because I don't think the owners now take care of him as I would have. I have visited with the puppy 3 times since giving him away and am not pleased with him living outside. What should I do?

A:

Sometimes people are willing to return an animal when asked and other times they are willing to sell an animal to the people who gave them the animal. If the animal is being neglected or abused, the police and local humane societies should be contacted.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can I get my surrendered dog back from a rescue?
Q:

I surrendered my dog to a private rescue organization about three weeks ago. I have called several times asking about her and wondering if I can get her returned to me. They have only answered to tell me she is in a foster home awaiting to be adopted. Can I get her returned? I have been crying constantly about leaving her there.

A:

Usually when one surrenders an animal to a rescue organization, all rights to that animal are surrendered, unless the agreement states otherwise. Oftentimes rescue groups are reluctant to return an animal because of concerns that whatever caused the individual to surrender the animal in the first place will ultimately cause such person to surrender the animal in the future. However, at times rescue groups will return an animal if they believe it is in the animal's best interests to do so.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Breeder insists she gave us the wrong dog.
Q:

Could you please provide some guidance for me. My wife and I recently purchased a puppy from a breeder in South Jersey. After meeting with the breeder for several hours when we picked up our dog, she now claims that she sold us the wrong dog. She claims she sold us "Purple" dog which isn't what we were given and now wants her dog back and has retained a lawyer to do so. Not once in the multiple times we met with her and the dogs did any of the puppies have any color coding or distinguishing markings to identify each dog. My contract with her also does not mention anything to the effect of what dog we would receive or any color identifier. Can you please give me any advice if this "Breeder" has any recourse. Thank you.

A:

It would seem that the breeder is out of luck, but I suggest you consult with an attorney in your area who can review the contract and tell you more definitively whether the breeder would have any recourse.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Son-in-law wants dog back after 4 years.
Q:

My daughter died 5 yrs ago. Her husband could not keep their dog after he had to move in with his mother. He has his own place now and is demanding I return the  dog.
I have the sister dog, they can't be separated after 4 yrs. My husband loves this dog, it would destroy him, the dog loves his litter mate, he has threatened to come and take him from us. The dog is registered to me. My daughter never registered her, after she died I registered her, had her spayed etc. My son in law  previously had 3 labs, which he took to a humane society and had put down because he couldn't have any dogs. I need your help, please! Thank you.

A:

I suggest that if your daughter’s husband sues for the return of the dog, you hire an attorney to represent your interests and the interests of the dog. Given that you have cared for the dog for four years, it is very possible that a court would find that you are entitled to keep the dog, particularly if you have paid for the dog's care during this four year period.


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

My dog has been aggressive lately. We have an appointment with a dog trainer,  but today he tried to bite me so I hit him on the muzzle. He growled so I pushed him with my foot. Someone called Animal Control and they took him. Will I get my dog back?

A:

Unless a dog ‘owner’ signs a surrender agreement, he/she is generally entitled to a hearing before any final disposition of a dog alleged to be dangerous is made. Even if a surrender agreement was signed, one can still try to assert rights. Dogs who bite are often ordered quarantined for several days (although sometimes in the ‘owner’s’ home, not at a shelter). I suggest that you immediately contact animal control to inform them verbally and in writing that you want your dog back. Remember that a hearing should be requested if there is any indication that the dog may not be returned, or that the dog may be killed or subject to other conditions. The dog’s life may be in jeopardy. I suggest hiring an attorney in these matters. I also suggest hiring a humane animal trainer.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Do I have to give my dog back?
Q:

I was just wondering: I just adopted a puppy and it's not working out with some personal issues I'm dealing with right now. I live in PA and I adopted the dog from the adoption agency in SC. I actually got the dog!...despite the most absurd questions and the investigation of my home. But in the contract it says that I have to give the dog back if I can't care for it anymore. I've already told them (only after a few days due to sudden personal issues that erupted) that I need to give the dog back and they are working on a transport to get her back to SC...and they asked me to do 1/3 of the trip!. But they are taking a while in working it all out and I can NOT care for this dog any more. I spoke to a good friend of mine who is involved in vet care and she said to just tell them that the situation/personal problem I had was resolved and I want to keep the dog but then give it to someone else after, because I have a few friends and family members with good homes that are looking for a new dog. And since the rescue group is all the way in SC, I figure that they will never, ever find out if I give the dog to someone else. But I read an article online about how someone got caught with a legal situation that cost $500! I don't need that on top of it all! Please email me and tell me what you think of my situation and what I should do.

A:

Many animal shelters and rescue groups include language in their adoption agreements requiring the return of adopted animals if the adopter chooses not to keep the animal. In this way, shelters and rescue groups can ensure that prospective adopters meet adoption standards. However, sometimes if a shelter/rescue group is informed of an interested adopter by an adopter who no longer wants to keep an animal, the shelter or rescue group will try to cooperate if screening of the prospective adopter is possible.  Some adoption agreements include provisions pertaining to potential liability for breaches of the agreement but I cannot say whether or not the particular organization from whom you adopted the dog would sue based on breach of contract or how a court would decide the case. I suggest that you arrange for proper care of the dog pending the outcome of this situation (after all, you did adopt the dog and the dog is your responsibility for now).  Also, keep in mind that shelters and rescue groups usually spend a lot of time, effort and money to care for their animals and it is very disappointing when an adoption does not work out. Frankly, doing the 1/3 drive seems to be a reasonable request under these circumstances. I hope the dog gets a humane forever home next time.
 


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Is it animal abuse if a dog is not properly supervised?
Q:

Me and my familiy were coming back from an errand, when all of a sudden a puppy ran out through the street! Luckily we were able to stop the car before it was too late. Me worried about the dog, got out of the car and tried to call him because he was alone. When I did that I guess he got scared and went under the gate of this house. Wouldn't this be animal abuse because the people that own this dog should have proper care for that dog and if something is not done that dog could get hit by a car?

A:

While it is certainly negligent for pet ‘parents’ not to properly supervise their animals, it is unlikely that they would be charged with cruelty to animals if their animals (in otherwise good condition) escape from their yards. It is possible the dog’s ‘owner’ could receive a summons for a leash law violation (in those areas where there is a leash law) and could be subject to a lawsuit if the animal injures a person or other animal orcauses property damage. I hope this puppy is OK. Sometimes it can help to send a note (if one knows where the dog lives) to make the dog’s ‘owner’ aware that the dog escaped. Hopefully, more appropriate precautions will then be taken so the dog won’t escape again.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
What right does Animal Control have to keep my dog?
Q:

Hi I own a 6 year old pittbull. Months ago a dog came onto our property and my pitt went after him the owner came over and beat my dog so he bit his leg. Then a year later a lady come into our yard and went for my daughter in her stroller my pitt snapped the line knocked her away and held onto her leg small puncture no stiches. But then last week he bit my daughters friend whose been around him for years. Anyways animal control told us he needed a 10 day quarantine at there shelter 2 days later they call and say hes not alowwed home and they just said the 10 day thing to get him there. Now they're planning to put him down without our consent. Can they do that? Is there anyway we'll get him back




A:

Generally, a dog ‘owner’ whose dog is alleged to be dangerous has the right to a dangerous dog hearing and must be notified about this right (if the identity of the ‘owner’ is reasonably ascertainable). The law in NJ states that if “the owner wishes, a hearing will be held to determine whether the impounded dog is vicious or potentially dangerous. This notice shall also require that the owner return within seven days, by certified mail or hand delivery, a signed statement indicating whether he wishes the hearing to be conducted or, if not, to relinquish ownership of the dog, in which case the dog may be humanely destroyed.” Also, sometimes when an animal is quarantined due to a bite the animal’s ‘owner’ inadvertently signs a surrender form relinquishing all rights to the animal (thus giving the municipality the right to kill the animal). There could be grounds to challenge the validity of the document.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
What are my rights as the dog owner?
Q:

I left my dog in the care of someone for a month and they will not give me my dog back. The original agreement was to give me my dog back as soon as I returned and now they are not willing to return him. I haven't had him registered yet, but I do have him in my divorce decree as my personal property and I have pictures of him as my only proof that I own him. What can I do? Do I have any rights to get him back???

A:

Generally, when a pet ‘parent’ leaves an animal for boarding, the pet ‘parent’ is entitled to retrieve the animal. However, the issue gets more complex if the pet ‘parent’ does not return to get the animal on the agreed upon date or pay the amount due for the animal’s care. Arizona’s boarding law says, “When a small animal left at a boarding facility or any animal left at a veterinarian facility has not been reclaimed within the period of time previously agreed upon at the time of delivery of the animal…, the boarding facility or veterinarian may give written notice by certified mail to the last known address of the owner, possessor or custodian of the animal, and if the animal is not reclaimed within thirty days from the date of the mailing of the notice, the animal shall become the property of the boarding facility or veterinarian to dispose of as the boarding facility or veterinarian sees fit.” When boarding is not with a boarding facility or veterinarian, one’s rights largely depend on the boarding agreement and compliance with it. In cases where no written agreement exists and the parties dispute the terms of the verbal agreement, courts would consider other factors, including, for example, whether money was paid for the care of the animal, to determine the respective rights of the parties. Proof of ‘ownership’ from a divorce decree and photos can be helpful but do not definitively prove ‘ownership’ since the animal could have subsequently been given away, sold, or abandoned. If one believes his/her animal is being wrongfully withheld, he/she can sue for the return of the animal.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Items 81 - 90 of 568  Previous12345678910Next