Can I claim ownership of a dog my neighbor left with me over 2 months ago? She was neglected, I paid to have her groomed and got all her shots up to date.
Rights and responsibilities of a foster “parent” and the animal’s “parent” would depend on the terms of their agreement. People who give away their animal generally have no further rights to that animal unless the agreement provides otherwise but pet sitters don't usually gain ownership of an animal they agreed to watch. If a lawsuit is commenced for the return of an animal, the court will consider the evidence to determine who should get the animal. Sometimes an argument can be made successfully that an animal was abandoned or gifted if the animal’s “parent” left the animal for boarding but did not retrieve the animal in a timely manner. Depending on the relief sought in the lawsuit, the court may also order one of the litigants to pay money to the other. There is a specific law in Arkansas regarding animals abandoned with a veterinarian. While not directly on point, this law may provide some guidance. The law states: “(a) Unless otherwise provided by contract between the veterinarian and his or her client, a veterinarian may dispose of any animal abandoned in his or her care if he or she gives written notice of his or her intention to do so by sending the notice to the last known physical or email address of the client. (b) The veterinarian shall allow the client twelve (12) days from the issuance of the notice in which to retrieve the animal.” There is also an Arkansas law that states: “A person commits the offense of cruelty to animals if he or she knowingly: … (3) Abandons an animal at a location without providing for the animal's continued care.” It would be up to law enforcement to decide whether or not to charge someone with violating Arkansas’ animal cruelty/abandonment law. I hope that this situation works out well for this dog.
Send Your Pet Legal Question Now!
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.