Shelter adopted out my service animal.

////Shelter adopted out my service animal.

Question

I'm a musician (touring artist) and had my service animal staying with my mother for a bit as I was traveling. She lost the dog, when the shelter received the dog, they adopted it in three days. My every attempt to locate my dog has been thwarted and denied by the shelter even though they didn't go through proper protocol. The dog is microchipped and registered as a service animal in my name. Is there anything I can do?

Answer

People who believe that their animal is being wrongfully withheld can sue to try to get the animal returned. In the course of the lawsuit, contact information for the adopters may be requested (although courts have been very reluctant to order that such information be released). Shelters are typically required by law to hold dogs for a specified number of days before rehoming (that number varies throughout the country). While it is good practice for shelters to contact people when an animal who was reported lost appears at the shelter, people should visit local shelters daily to see if their missing animal is there to best ensure that they will be reunited with their animal. Some states have laws that require shelters to scan for microchips and to contact the owner of a microchipped animal. For example, Georgia’s law, provides, in part: “When any dog, cat, or other large animal traditionally kept as a household pet is brought to an animal shelter or other facility operated for the collection and care of stray, neglected, or abandoned animals, the operator of the facility shall, if the owner of the animal is not known, within 24 hours or as soon as possible scan for the presence of an identifying microchip through the use of a microchip reader. If a microchip is found, the operator shall make a reasonable effort to contact the owner of the animal. Prior to euthanizing a dog, cat, or other large animal traditionally kept as a household pet, any facility referred to in this subsection shall again scan for the presence of an identifying microchip through the use of a microchip reader… Shelters and facilities and their employees and the Department of Agriculture shall not be liable for failing to detect a microchip or failing to contact the owner of the animal. Shelter personnel shall not be required to scan any animal they deem to be too vicious or dangerous to permit safe handling.”

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.

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.

Ask a Legal Question

By |2020-12-01T17:13:30+00:00December 1st, 2020|