Westminster, CO asked in Animal / Dog Law for Colorado

Q: Can you adopt a pet if the owner goes to jail?

Someone I know went to jail and I currently have his dog. The reason I currently have his dog is because he was my sister-in-laws boyfriend and he beat her. His parents are not interested in taking the dog. I am willing to take ownership of the dog, but I don't want this person part of my life whatsoever. If I adopted his dog, I wouldn't want him to know that. Are there ways to legally do that? If there needs to be a custody period for the dog, can I take care of the dog during that time so he doesn't need to stay in a shelter?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Kristina M. Bergsten
Kristina M. Bergsten
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Animal & Dog Law Lawyer
  • Denver, CO
  • Licensed in Colorado

A: Technically, under these facts, the answer is no. If the dog was taken to a shelter, then ownership would sever after 5 days under Colorado statute. However, for an individual person, the abandoned property kicks in after 5 years. So, technically, unless this guy sells the dog to you or agrees to gift the dog to you, he still retains ownership, in spite of his circumstances. However, with everything going on in his life, he might agree to give the dog to you or not ask at all.

Juliet Piccone
Juliet Piccone
Answered
  • Animal & Dog Law Lawyer
  • Englewood, CO
  • Licensed in Colorado

A: I'd recommend you either have a consultation with an experienced animal lawyer or if you are good at research, look up your local animal control laws on abandonment. Some specifically say that being incarcerated is grounds for abandonment. Next I would talk to your local animal control agency and explain the situation and see if they are willing to post the dog as "lost" and let you keep it during stray hold period, and/or formally adopt the dog to you after the waiting period.

I'd also probablysend him a letter in jail stating the date he abandoned the dog.

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