Asked in Adoption and Animal / Dog Law for California

Q: My dog was adopted from a shelter when I was incarcerated. He is a registered service animal. How can I get him back?

I recently got into some unfortunate legal issues and was incarcerated for several months. My dog that I have had for the past 8 years ended up at a city shelter. Because I could not pick him up he was adopted by someone else. He is a registered service animal to me. I would like to know the legalities of this kind of situation. Was it legal for the shelter to put a service animal up for adoption? How do I go about trying to getting him back?

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1 Lawyer Answer
William John Light
William John Light
  • Animal & Dog Law Lawyer
  • Riverside, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I would estimate that your ownership in the animal has terminated. You should have found temporary housing for the dog during your incarceration. Since the dog ended up at a City shelter, the shelter was within its rights to accept the dog and to place it in another home. Your complaint, if any, is against the person who left your dog at the shelter. If you had paid someone for the service of keeping your animal and they failed to live up to the bargain, you may have a claim for damages.

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