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 from North Shore Animal League America supporters who would like to learn more about animal law.
Elinor will 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 Inquiries:


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

Items 31 - 35 of 751  Previous12345678910Next

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.