World's Largest NO-KILL
Animal Rescue
and Adoption Organization
 
 
 

Pet Legal Questions & Answers

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

Elinor D. Molbegott, is an attorney who maintains a law practice devoted to animal law. Elinor donates her time to answer questions North Shore Animal League America supporters who would like to learn more about animal law.
Elinor wil field as many questions as she can and they will be posted here on this site. Due to the volume of questions received, not all questions are answered. However, many individuals have similar questions. You may find helpful information in the categories listed below.

Featured Question

Other, Housing:

Q:

I hired a realtor to find me an apartment that accepted dogs. The listing on the computer says that the building indeed accepted dogs. The day I went to sign the lease the lease claimed that dogs were not allowed. I was still advised by the realtor to sign the lease and did so out of desperation, we were homeless. There are dogs on every floor of my building and some just as big as my dog if not bigger. I've lived here 6 months now and the landlord sent me a notarized letter from the courts to get rid of the dog or face eviction. I got the dog registered as an emotional support dog online and read online if I keep a dog openly and notoriously and the landlord or his employee know about the dog and don't decide to take legal actions within 3 months then the rule is not enforced and they waive the right for me to keep him. Is this true? How should I proceed?

Read Full Answer...
A:

NYC pet law provides that that if a tenant keeps a pet or pets openly with the knowledge of the landlord (owner) or owner's agent, and the owner does not commence a legal proceeding within 3 months to enforce a no-pet lease provision, the no-pet lease provision is waived for that pet(s). (NYC Administrative Code, § 27-2009.1). Sometimes after tenants (or their attorneys) remind landlords of this law, the landlord will not proceed any further (but sometimes landlords commence legal actions anyway---although they do not always win!). Westchester has a similar law. There are also laws that protect people with emotional support or service animals. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), if a person has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity and the animal works, provides assistance, or performs services for such person, or provides emotional support that "alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of a person's existing disability," the housing provider must make an exception to a "no-pets" rule or policy. It is often helpful for tenants to get a letter from their health care provider that makes it very clear that the animal is medically necessary. According to HUD rules, housing providers should evaluate requests for assistance animals as follows:

(I) Does the person seeking to use and live with the animal have a disability - i.e., a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities?

(2) Does the person making the request have a disability-related need for an assistance animal? In other words, does the animal work, provide assistance, perform tasks or services for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provide emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of a person's existing disability?

People who believe that they are being discriminated against for having emotional support or service animals can file a complaint with HUD (www.hud.gov/complaints/housediscrim.cfm, 1-800-669-9777).

Browse Categories




Most Recent Custody Inquiries:


How to get my two puppies back?
Q:

My son took my two puppies and gave them away. They're mine and the people that have them won't give them back. Legally the pups belong to my husband and I, our female dog had the litter. And the two pups is all she had. I'm so upset about it they're my babies. Part of our family. Please help me?!?

A:

People who believe that their animals are being wrongfully withheld can commence a civil lawsuit (replevin action) to try to get their animals returned. The police can also be contacted (they enforce pet theft laws) but will not typically get involved in pet custody disputes involving family members.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
My son's girlfriend stole my dog while in Georgia.
Q:

I live in Vermont and bought a dog. I have bill of sale and vet record. My son brought the dog to Georgia. His girlfriend was living with him and he had the dog there for 2 days. She decided to move out and took my dog with her. How do I get my dog back?

A:

People who believe that their animals are being wrongfully withheld can commence a civil lawsuit (replevin action) to try to get their animals returned. The police can also be contacted (they enforce pet theft laws) but will not typically get involved in pet custody disputes involving friends and family members. Of course, it is always simpler to try to more amicably resolve these disputes whenever possible.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can I legally take back dog I gave to a friend?
Q:

Hi, I searched for a home for my dog because I worked so much and it was hard to potty train her. I let a friend have her with the agreement that I can see her when I'd like. It's been almost 2 months and he has not let me see, what I still consider my pup. Can I legally take her back?

A:

It is unclear why you still consider the dog to be yours since you mentioned that you gave the dog away. A person who believes that his/her animal is being wrongfully withheld or that an agreement has been breached (visitation, for example) can sue for the return of the animal or the enforcement of the contract (although proving the terms of a verbal agreement can be difficult). I hope you all consider the best interests of the dog. After all, dogs require not only love, but time and attention, veterinary care, grooming, training, etc.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Can Rescue organization take dog I adopted back if I try to find it a new home?
Q:

Hello a rescue org came to my house and took back a dog I adopted because they found out I was trying to find a home for him (because he had anxiety and my other dog was making it worse). They came last night with a police officer so I thought I had no choice but to give him to her. But, is the dog legally mine still? They dramatically pulled him out of the house in front of my children and we are all very upset. I still have the paperwork. I want him back now as we were only going to rehome him if we found the right family. Do I have any legal recourse?

A:

I suggest you read your adoption agreement. Adoption agreements sometimes contain provisions requiring adopters to return animals they no longer wish to keep to the shelter or rescue. In this way, the shelter or rescue can screen new potential adopters using their own standards (which may be higher than standards used by an adopter looking to re-home the animal). People who believe their animals are being wrongfully withheld can sue (replevin action) to try to get the animals returned.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
My lost cat may be in shelter, but they won't let me look.
Q:

I lost my cat almost seven months ago when he got out during the night and never came home. I've been looking for him ever since and now I think I've found him on the animal shelter website. At least I think it's him. When I went there apparently he was in a hoard house with 70 different cats. I asked to see him but the lady refused. She didn't even give me a chance to talk. She said it was impossible to be my cat for the fact that she apparently has all the records. Now I'm no genius but I'm pretty sure that most hoarders don't keep a well organized house to know which cat is which. Let alone how many one has, in fact I'm pretty sure that they don't neuter or spayed them either, right? So my main question is this, isn't it against the law to refuse to let someone look at the animal they think is theirs? Because I'm really sure that the cat they have is mine for these reasons. The picture looks exactly like him, the age is almost close, but I know it's hard to determine the age of an animal, I know from personal experience, the time they got him was a month and 16 days after he disappeared, July 14 2016, he's natured, which I don't see a hoarder doing that's why most kittens are deformed,he has his claws, because I refuse to get them declawed, and he is also a male. What do you think?

A:

I suggest you retain an attorney in your area who may be able to intervene on your behalf. People are not required to allow individuals claiming to be looking for their lost pets in their home. If there is probable cause to believe that one�s cat is being unlawfully withheld, it is possible that a search warrant could be issued. People who believe that their animals are being wrongfully withheld can also commence a civil lawsuit (replevin action) to try to get the animal returned. However, laws generally provide that animals in a shelter must be held for a specified amount of time to give their �owners� an opportunity to redeem them. After the impoundment period is over, �owners� generally lose rights to their animals (although there have been exceptions in extenuating situations). It is unclear if a shelter transferred the cat to this person after the impoundment period or if a person surrendered the cat to her or the cat was acquired some other way. People who suspect that animals are being neglected or otherwise mistreated should also contact the police and local humane organizations/SPCAs.


Submitted by Anonymous
Answered by Elinor Molbegott
Items 1 - 5 of 69  12345678910Next

PLEASE NOTE: 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.


Reminder...

      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.