Can a temporary boarding become permanent due to safety concerns?

////Can a temporary boarding become permanent due to safety concerns?


I received this wonderful dog from someone who needed temporary boarding while she went through a court ordered rehab program. I was told she would be with us for 3-4 months. And I agreed to return her contingent on the original owner proving sobriety and stability. When the dog was first placed in my care I noticed that she was physically healthy but extremely anxious and traumatized. The previous caretaker was drugging her daily with a tranquilizer that was not prescribed for her. It has now been over ten months, no communication from the original owner. The dog is doing wonderfully well, is happy and well adjusted and feels safe. Yesterday I was informed the original owner wants the dog back now. I have also since learned that the initial court ordered rehab was due to a violent incident. Can I refuse to return the dog, citing safety and stability concerns and breach of the original agreement? Since I didn’t hear from them for months after the terms of the original agreement, could it be considered abandonment of property? They live in a different county if that affects anything.


As the expression goes, "No good deed goes unpunished." While the law is clear on when an animal left for boarding at a veterinarian in Illinois may be deemed abandoned, it is not so clear when an animal will be deemed abandoned when boarded elsewhere. Boarding facilities and people who agree to board should have contracts that address this issue.

Under certain circumstances, an animal left for boarding and not retrieved in a timely manner may be deemed abandoned. That would be decided by a court if a lawsuit is commenced. People who believe that their animal is being wrongfully withheld may also contact the police, although the police do not usually intervene in animal custody disputes.

There is another expression: “Possession is nine-tenths of the law.” Although not always true, it means that the person who has possession is frequently in a better position, at least initially, than the person who does not have possession. This is because the person who does not have possession often has the burden to sue to try to get the animal returned (and many more people threaten to sue than sue). Also, just because a person sues does not mean that he/she will win the case. If boarding is alleged, the court may consider whether boarding fees were paid and if the animal was left for much longer than agreed upon.

I hope that you and the person who left the dog for boarding can more amicably work out a custody/visitation arrangement that is in the best interests of the dog.

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By |2023-12-08T15:21:36-04:00November 28th, 2023|