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Old 06-16-2009, 10:05 AM   #1
Goofy05
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When is a dog considered "abandoned property"?

Hi! Here's the situation: A friend purchased a puppy with his girlfriend around the first of the year. A few days later, they needed someone to puppy sit while they went to Vegas. Okay, sure, I'll watch her. They came back, took the puppy back, had a fight and split up. Said friend now has no place to keep the dog until closing on a house he bid on. Sure, I'll watch the dog. He never showed any interest in taking her back, even after the house should have closed.
Forward to last night. His ex-girlfriend comes to my house at nearly 11:00pm and demands her dog back. I did call the local police, and of course, she left before they arrived. The officer took the information and called her cell. Voice mail, as was expected. He left a lengthy message telling her not to come back to my property and that her case is a civil matter. He told me he thinks the dog has become abandoned property and is now mine.
Does anyone know at what point the dog became abandoned and if she has any chance at getting her back? She kept repeating that she has a receipt.
TIA!
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Old 06-16-2009, 10:19 AM   #2
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Why not contact the Marquette Law School in Milwaukee? They probably have a "law clinic" where students will research and answer questions at little or no cost.
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Old 06-16-2009, 10:22 AM   #3
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Following New Rule:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goofy05 View Post
Hi! Here's the situation: A friend purchased a puppy with his girlfriend around the first of the year. A few days later, they needed someone to puppy sit while they went to Vegas. Okay, sure, I'll watch her. They came back, took the puppy back, had a fight and split up. Said friend now has no place to keep the dog until closing on a house he bid on. Sure, I'll watch the dog. He never showed any interest in taking her back, even after the house should have closed.
Forward to last night. His ex-girlfriend comes to my house at nearly 11:00pm and demands her dog back. I did call the local police, and of course, she left before they arrived. The officer took the information and called her cell. Voice mail, as was expected. He left a lengthy message telling her not to come back to my property and that her case is a civil matter. He told me he thinks the dog has become abandoned property and is now mine.
Does anyone know at what point the dog became abandoned and if she has any chance at getting her back? She kept repeating that she has a receipt.
TIA!
Questions:

How long have you had the dog?

Have you verbally asked your friend if he still wants the dog and when is he going to pick it up?

Do YOU want the dog? If so, you should make written arrangements on the transfer of ownership of the dog with him.

Or, do you mind if the GF has the dog? Have you told her that she has to make arrangements with ex-BF for the dog?


Also, I've noticed that when a police officer says something is a civil matter, they don't necessarily then know the legalities and rules regarding that civil matter. Just because the cop says it's an abandoned dog doesn't make it one.
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Old 06-16-2009, 10:43 AM   #4
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Cops don't know much about the law and frequently say things that are simply not true. If you want answers, ask lawyers.

Could you just give her her dog and get one of your own or have you all become seriously attached to the dog?

If you love this dog, I wish you the best.
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Old 06-16-2009, 10:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goofy05 View Post
Hi! Here's the situation: A friend purchased a puppy with his girlfriend around the first of the year. A few days later, they needed someone to puppy sit while they went to Vegas. Okay, sure, I'll watch her. They came back, took the puppy back, had a fight and split up. Said friend now has no place to keep the dog until closing on a house he bid on. Sure, I'll watch the dog. He never showed any interest in taking her back, even after the house should have closed.
Forward to last night. His ex-girlfriend comes to my house at nearly 11:00pm and demands her dog back. I did call the local police, and of course, she left before they arrived. The officer took the information and called her cell. Voice mail, as was expected. He left a lengthy message telling her not to come back to my property and that her case is a civil matter. He told me he thinks the dog has become abandoned property and is now mine.
Does anyone know at what point the dog became abandoned and if she has any chance at getting her back? She kept repeating that she has a receipt.
TIA!
I guess that I'm confused as to why you wouldn't give her the dog that she could prove that she owned.

She may have been fighting for her dog ever since the break-up and just now found out that you had it.
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Old 06-16-2009, 10:52 AM   #6
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I would give the dog to the humane society in your area and let them deal with her and the best interest of the dog.
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Old 06-16-2009, 10:59 AM   #7
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If the ex-boyfriend had given you her gold watch after the breakup and she showed up on your doorstep with the reciept, would you give her the watch?
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:02 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goofy05 View Post
Hi! Here's the situation: A friend purchased a puppy with his girlfriend around the first of the year. A few days later, they needed someone to puppy sit while they went to Vegas. Okay, sure, I'll watch her. They came back, took the puppy back, had a fight and split up. Said friend now has no place to keep the dog until closing on a house he bid on. Sure, I'll watch the dog. He never showed any interest in taking her back, even after the house should have closed.
Forward to last night. His ex-girlfriend comes to my house at nearly 11:00pm and demands her dog back. I did call the local police, and of course, she left before they arrived. The officer took the information and called her cell. Voice mail, as was expected. He left a lengthy message telling her not to come back to my property and that her case is a civil matter. He told me he thinks the dog has become abandoned property and is now mine.
Does anyone know at what point the dog became abandoned and if she has any chance at getting her back? She kept repeating that she has a receipt.
TIA!
A few questions we need answers to:

1) When did you actually get the dog for the second time? Ie: How long after the Vegas trip did they split up? Did they split up right after the trip in January, so you have had the dog for 5-6 months, or did they keep him for a few months?

2) Have you contacted the owners at anytime asking if they were picking up the dog and did they refuse to pick the dog up? After the date passed that the house was supposed to close, did you have any contact with the owners? Did you make an effort to return the dog?

3) Did the ex-girlfriend know where the dog was or is she just now finding out that you have the dog and claiming it?

You have had the dog only for a maximum of 6 months (depending when the fight was and they returned the dog to you) and you did agree to watch the dog for them.

Unless you repeatedly tried to return the dog and told the owners that you could no longer watch it, the right thing to do would be to return the dog to its rightful owners.

Whether that is the legal precedent or not, it is the right thing to do. Especially, if you have not made it clear that they needed to pick the dog up. Because if you have not asked them to take the dog back, then it appears that there is a silent agreement to continue watching the dog for them.

If you have asked them to come get their dog and they have refused and you made it clear that refusing to pick it up is beyond the terms of your agreement to watch the dog, then certainly you can feel right about keeping it.
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:05 AM   #9
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Although pets are technically considered "property", there's more, IMO, that goes into making a decision like this because it's a living being and attachments have formed. Absolutely figure out the law. But if you've had the dog for 6 months, I presume you love eachother and the "owners" are virtual strangers to this dog. I'd fight for it, even if I had to pay the abandoners off for their "property". I really don't know how a judge would see it, but my guess would be that because you've invested both emotionaly and financially for a full six months (get all vet records, food receipts, pictures of moments together, etc.), a reasonable judge would consider the dog yours.

ETA yes, would need to know how long they had the dog during these six months. My post above is presuming you've had it pretty much the whole time.
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:12 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheshire Figment View Post
Why not contact the Marquette Law School in Milwaukee? They probably have a "law clinic" where students will research and answer questions at little or no cost.
Thanks, I'll look into this.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Imzadi View Post
Following New Rule:



Questions:

How long have you had the dog?
Nearly five months.
Have you verbally asked your friend if he still wants the dog and when is he going to pick it up?
Yes, four months ago.
Do YOU want the dog? If so, you should make written arrangements on the transfer of ownership of the dog with him.
Yes, she has become a member of the family. If the gf has the receipt, how would anything written by him be of any use? I doubt he has any interest in the dog.
Or, do you mind if the GF has the dog? Have you told her that she has to make arrangements with ex-BF for the dog?
She didn't want the dog for the past four + months, so no, I don't think she should have this or any dog, really.

Also, I've noticed that when a police officer says something is a civil matter, they don't necessarily then know the legalities and rules regarding that civil matter. Just because the cop says it's an abandoned dog doesn't make it one.
That's why I was asking here. I don't know the laws regarding property and was hoping someone here could shed some light.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cool-Beans View Post
Cops don't know much about the law and frequently say things that are simply not true. If you want answers, ask lawyers.

Could you just give her her dog and get one of your own or have you all become seriously attached to the dog?
She is a part of the family now, and it doesn't seem like the gf is a very responsible pet owner to me.
If you love this dog, I wish you the best.
Thanks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sbell111 View Post
I guess that I'm confused as to why you wouldn't give her the dog that she could prove that she owned.

She may have been fighting for her dog ever since the break-up and just now found out that you had it.
She knew I had the dog. After four months of training a puppy, I truly don't think she deserves having her back. Screams irresponsible to me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldieSaysMeep View Post
I would give the dog to the humane society in your area and let them deal with her and the best interest of the dog.
I doubt the Humane Society would be of much help and wouldn't that defeat my wanting to keep the dog?
Maybe it wasn't clear that I would like to keep this dog, she has become family. She's well cared for and loved.
Thanks for the replies. I will try contacting a lawyer. I don't think she'll go so far as court, but I want to know my options.
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:12 AM   #11
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I wouldn't give Kitty back. She was an outside cat, likely a barn cat at birth and I doubt anyone would ever come looking for her.

But if they did, they'd play hell getting her back. I'd tell them to go to hell. I'd go to court. I'd do whatever I had to in order to keep her.

A few months into it, I'd have given her back and been thrilled to do it. But not now. I like the cat. She's been here about a year and here she's staying.

I know it would be the right thing to do - giving the cat back - but I'd be singing, "Finders keepers, losers weepers" in whatever adult fashion the lawyers could concoct.

But if you CAN give the dog back, you really should.
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:20 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldieSaysMeep View Post
I would give the dog to the humane society in your area and let them deal with her and the best interest of the dog.
Really? You would just abandon a dog to the humane society that you had been taking care of for the last 5 months? Do you even own pets?!? That just seems like a very cold hearted way of dealing with the situation. In addition, it's not even clear that the OP can legally give the dog away even if she wants to.
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:22 AM   #13
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I think you should file the police report and tell her to take you to court if she wants the dog back. If she does (she won't) I would tally up all of the dog food & care recipts for the last however many months to porve that you have been taking care of him for that long, and if she gets the dog back, I would want to be paid back for all of that, plus dog sitting fees.

A receipt from purchasing the dog doesnt hold much water IMHO, she gave it to her BF as a gift, he will vouch he gave it to you. If you go to court, take him along. He GAVE you the dog.
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:57 AM   #14
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It makes a difference in the matter knowing that you want the dog. Good luck!

First of all, courts & judges know that domestic cases are the hardest to handle, because a lot of it is "He said, she said." She may have a receipt for the dog, but the ex-BF had physical possession of the dog and turned responsibility of care over to you (either temporarily or ultimately permanently.)

Even if you were boarding the dog because the ex-GF didn't have a home for it either right after she moved, it sounds like neither of them came forward to pay you during all this time for the care, feeding, boarding and training of the dog.

If she shows up again, you may want to ask her IF she wins the dog in court, is she prepared to pay all your fees for the care, feeding, boarding and training of the dog for the past five months, in addition to the court costs?

While she may want a dog again, if she is finally established in a stable home capable of accepting a dog, and decided it would be "convenient" to simply come by and pick up the one she previously had, she may balk & think twice if she realizes she will have to pay all these fees. It may be just as "convenient" to simply go buy another dog.


There was a thread a while back where someone had abandoned a piano in a house they sold & moved out. The OP had bought the house. A year later, the old owner shows up wanting the piano back. She expected to not have to pay for it, and that the OP, (who had grown attached to the piano,) would just give it up. That woman never did show up again.

On the one hand, it took a lot of nerve to just show up a year later , on the other hand, the woman may have figured it wouldn't hurt to ask. The OP may have been wanting to get rid of it but never got around to it, and it would have worked out for both parties.

If you firmly establish you want the dog and it's going to cost the ex-GF in terms of time & expenses to get it, she may hopefully give up on the idea.


Oh, and if the BF suddenly shows up wanting the dog back, too, (just to stick it to the ex-GF,) make sure you tell him the costs of boarding the dog all this time and expect to be compensated. Being a good friend and paying for the dog yourself for a few weeks while he got his house settled, is one thing, but after you asked him to pick up the dog & he didn't, the court may side with you that he should pay for the excess fees. He, too, may suddenly decide he doesn't want the dog that badly.
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Old 06-16-2009, 12:09 PM   #15
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I used to volunteer at a Humane Society in CA. The animals that were strays had to have a hold put on them (in case an owner came looking for them) before they could be put up for adoption. The animals that were surrendered by their owners could be put up for adoption pretty much right away. We'd get lots of people who would bring in 8 week old kittens and say, "A stray momma cat had these kittens in my yard and I've been taking care of them." In such cases, we advised them that if they had been caring for the kittens for 3 days they were the legal owner and could surrender them as the owner, allowing the kittens to go up for adoption right away.

I agree with the police officer. This is a civil matter. You've had the dog for 4-5 months. If the ex-GF wants the dog back she would either have to sue you or her ex-BF.

Personally, I would try to get something in writing (maybe just an email) from the BF saying that you can keep the dog. Offer to pay him some modest amount of money for the dog. Then, if the ex-GF tries to make a claim against you, you could show that the BF transferred ownership of the dog to you... and her claim should be against the BF. She *might* be able to get some of her monetary expenses back from the BF but would be unlikely to get the dog back from you.
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