Last October I found a stray cat stuck in a cage by a dumpster and brought it home. I got it shots, spayed, and microchipped all under my name. My girlfriend at the time wanted to find a better home for it then my college dorm so decided to send it to her house to live with her mom while we were at school. Fast forward 6 months we broke up and she refuses to give me the cat back. Everything is under my name but she swears that her mother feeding it for the last 6 months and giving it a home outweighs the paperwork.
People who give their animal away generally have no further rights to that animal and the person to whom the animal was given generally has no legal obligation to return the animal. People who believe that their animal is being wrongfully withheld can sue to try to get the animal returned. The issue here may be whether the cat was gifted or whether the agreement was for the cat to be temporarily fostered/boarded. An animal’s paperwork, such as veterinary records and microchip registration, are persuasive evidence of ownership, but they do not prove ownership in all cases. If litigated, courts will also consider what happened after, such as whether an animal was rehomed or abandoned. If fostering/boarding is alleged, the court may consider whether boarding fees were paid. Some courts also consider the animal’s well-being. It was very kind of you to rescue this cat and to have the cat vaccinated, spayed, and microchipped. Please think about what is best for this cat now before proceeding any further.
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