Germantown, MD asked in Animal / Dog Law and Libel & Slander for Maryland

Q: Can animal control take a dog that was given to me to rehome?

A man on Craigslist who lives in VA was rehoming his German Shepherd due to allergies according to the ad. He originally wanted a $300 fee but I told him I could not pay then and there and if I could I would do so at a later point as I did not even get paid until the 1st of August. He has been harassing me for a few days now about wanting to get the dog back and the fee and says animal control says it is theft of the dog and wants to press charges. I went to VA to pick up the dog that he GAVE me and I gave it to my father in-law as a gift (who lives only 10miles away from me). Can he really take the dog back and charge me with theft? I’ve asked him that if he wants to sue me or take legal action to stop contacting me and I would deal with lawyers or law enforcement if that’s the route he took but instead he is messaging me constantly and having his family members also contact me

1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: If he gave you the dog without requiring payment up front, with only your promise to pay in the future, then you did not commit theft or any criminal act. He may lie to the police, of course, but you have no control over that. All the facts you present support only a civil breach of contract for sale of the dog for $300.00. Of course, you are arguing that you never agreed that you could pay $300, ever. But, if a judge decides that $300 was the bargained-for price, but there was no definite date to pay, then the court will decide a "reasonable" time is imposed by law. That's a factual question, what a reasonable time is. But yes, he can sue you civilly. No, there's not a crime committed on your facts, but as I said, he may tell a very different story to the police (e.g., you took the dog without his permission).

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