Suspected neglect and injury case.

////Suspected neglect and injury case.


Ten days ago, I took my friend's brother's dog to get emergency care as she needed stitches for a laceration on her paw. No family members were willing to take her in during her recovery. The injury resulted from broken glass on the floor, which is standard for the home. The house was filthy, with mud caking the floors, garbage ripped up everywhere, and the brothers are suspected of being involved in drug activities inside the house. The police were involved that day as one of the brothers assaulted someone for taking his dog to get medical care, as he couldn't afford the vet bill.

We contacted the animal welfare authority, but they closed the case because the brother wouldn't let the inspector inside the house. Over the past 10 days, I've witnessed her separation anxiety, extreme fear, and apprehension towards new people, especially men. I know for a fact she is being neglected, and there's potential abuse.

Animal welfare and the police have agreed to let her stay in my care as she recovers because they don't trust the brother/owner to provide the proper medical care she needs. When visiting the house, the owner told the inspector he would have "poured vodka on her and stitched her up himself with his fishing line." It's disheartening that animal welfare closed the case so easily, but animals are deemed as property, and there are inadequate laws to protect them. Additionally, the owner is being investigated for multiple calls to the house regarding assault and drugs.

Legally, I'm expected to return the dog to him, but it feels morally and ethically wrong to subject her to that house, owner, and lifestyle. If there are any alternative avenues to ensure she doesn't have to stay in that environment, any advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated. I feel so helpless here. Thank you for your time.


There is an expression: “Possession is nine-tenths of the law.” Although not always true, it means that the person in 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 of suing 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. People who believe that their animal is being wrongfully withheld can also contact the police, but the police do not usually intervene in animal custody disputes.

Ontario’s law states in part: “No owner or custodian of an animal shall permit the animal to be in distress.” It is very unfortunate that the cruelty case was closed given the conditions you described. In the meantime, it can be helpful to have readily on hand veterinary records, evidence that the dog was neglected, and that the police allowed you to take the dog. I cannot say how any given court will decide a lawsuit, but I suggest you retain an attorney if efforts are made to get the dog returned.

Sometimes people who are not bonded with their animal will agree to sell the animal if the price is right for them. Offering to purchase an animal can occasionally resolve a custody dispute. The agreement should be in writing and signed and dated by the parties. A description of the animal should be included.

I hope the dog has a healthy and happy life going forward!

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By |2024-03-26T09:53:44-04:00February 12th, 2024|