My husband and I adopted a 2 y/o lab/shepherd mix on 4/6/18. The dog was initially living in Texas then transported to Virginia in February 2018; the same rescue organization has branches in TX and VA, and they both coordinated his care. I had asked before adopting him if he had any significant health issues other than being overweight and was told no. We took him to the vet the day we got him and found out he was heart worm positive and has been since at least since December 2016, as he tested positive for it in June 2017 and it takes six months for the test to come up positive. The VA branch of the rescue group swears they did not know but that the TX people never communicated the information to them. He has not been treated for this infection. My concern is that because he has had the disease for so long, it’s prognosis is likely worse, and the treatment is sure to be very expensive. He is also more likely to have complications related to he treatment. Is the rescue organization who was aware of this preventable and treatable condition responsible, at least in part, for paying for his treatment since we were not given any prior knowledge before we adopted him? We cannot get pet insurance for him now either for other issues because of this preexisting condition. Thank you for your help and guidance.
Rights and responsibilities of adopters and rescues are usually contained in an adoption agreement, including who is responsible for veterinary care (and it is usually the adopter). However, given the alleged miscommunication it is possible the rescue will voluntarily help out with costs. If litigated, a court could (depending on adoption contract and facts and circumstances of each case) determine that there should be compensation awarded to an adopter for veterinary expenses (but not likely for speculative expenses). Although not directly on point, some courts have held in negligence cases involving injury to a companion animal that the monetary award should be the reasonable cost of veterinary treatment.
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