San Bernardino, CA asked in Animal / Dog Law for California

Q: Ex-boyfriend left his dog and now he wants her back

My ex-boyfriend got a dog for his daughter, but when he moved out he left his dog with me saying he couldn't take her. It's been over a month since he left. The puppy is now bonded to my dog, me and my daughter. I'm the one paying for all the food, vet and care. He says his daughter wants it back but he can't take her until he finds a place to live. I have offered him money for her, but he said no. Do I have any rights to this puppy since he left her at my house when he moved out and I'm the one taking care of her?

I should add that I have asked him to take the dog and give it back to his daughter, but he said no because she can't have it at her mom's house And he can't take the dog.

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

A: Maybe. Depends how he "left" the dog. If he said he couldn't take the dog, and that meant he was permanently abandoning it or giving it to you, you have an argument that the dog is now yours. Under Civil Code 1146 "A gift is a transfer of personal property, made voluntarily, and without consideration." Under section 1148, "A gift, other than a gift in view of impending death, cannot be revoked by the giver."

If he meant that he couldn't take the dog "right now", but you understood that he would someday claim it, then he has a stronger claim to ownership. However, you might still have a lien on the dog for the daily kennel rate during the time the dog has been with you.

In order for him to obtain the dog, he would either need to enter your property and take it (a crime), call the police to report a theft (which they would probably decline to get involved), or sue you in Small Claims (where you could argue that the dog was given to you and is now yours).

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