Auburn, CA asked in Animal / Dog Law and Civil Rights for California

Q: What do I do if someone refuses to give my dog back to me because they want to keep it yet i never signed it over?

I adopted this dog from a local breeder and signed a document proving that he is now mine. I had him at my house for about 2 weeks and my dad got mad because he kept him up one night and my dad was already getting bad sleep he made a rash choice and told me to get the dog out for the night. I found him a place to stay for the night and I brought all of his stuff just in case i couldn't keep him they said they wanted to adopt him if it was okay with me and i said well i don't have a choice because of my dad but i want to talk to my dad more with that being said i never signed any papers to these people giving away my dog. I made an agreement with my dad and he told me to get my dog and now they won't give him back. all the records they have , have my name on them. I never signed over my dog to them how do I get my dog back if legally the dog is mine.

2 Lawyer Answers
Kristina M. Bergsten
Kristina M. Bergsten
  • Animal & Dog Law Lawyer
  • Denver, CO

A: If the cops won’t help you get your dog back, then you’ll have to sue in replevin one your local courthouse. I would recommend talking to an attorney in your area to help you with filing the lawsuit.

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

A: There is no requirement that you "sign" your dog to someone in order to transfer ownership. If you gave your dog away, then it is no longer yours, writing or no writing. I suspect that the persons in custody of the dog will have a story that is different from yours.

If you did not give the dog away, you can report it to the police as stolen. It is unlikely that they will intervene. You can also file suit in Small Claims for return of the dog or for its fair market value. You can also request damages for "loss of use" by referencing the rental value of similar property which the plaintiff can hire for use during the period when he is deprived of the use of his own property. Collin v. Am. Empire Ins. Co., 21 Cal.App.4th 787, 818, (Cal. App. 1994). This is difficult to value for a dog, since they aren't available for rent generally. In Small Claims, you can get a Judgment of up to $10,000.

Plaintiff’s Claim and ORDER to Go to Small Claims Court; Form SC-100 (Lawsuit for monetary damages)

Request for Court Order and Answer; Form SC-105 (Request for Return of Property, filed with SC-100)

Order on Request for Court Order; Form SC-105A

Proof of Service; Form SC-104

No guaranties that these are the appropriate forms or that a Small Claims Judge will rule in your favor.

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