Eugene, OR asked in Animal / Dog Law for Oregon

Q: My sister stole my dog (who is used as an emotional support animal)

my sister and I had a verbal agreement where I would become the final owner of her two dogs (she was not able to home them and didn't want them to be with my grandmother) i promised she could take them camping but they were becoming my children's emotional support animals so I would not take them if I couldn't keep them. She agreed I could keep them. More than a year later she asks to take the dogs camping and then later drops off one of the dogs and says she is keeping the other one. They are registered in my name and I have their most recent vaccines and tags. The police said I should talk to a lawyer so I am asking you guys for help. What do I do?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Jina Ly Clark
Jina Ly Clark
  • Animal & Dog Law Lawyer
  • Portland, OR
  • Licensed in Oregon

A: Theoretically, you would have a claim against your sister for the tort of conversion. You could have an attorney send a demand under OS 20.080 for a return of the dog and give her 30 days to return the dog without incurring attorney fees or costs. Then you could file a lawsuit for injunctive relief and claim attorney fees and costs. The real issue here is the cost of litigation, as my hourly rates are $300.00/hour and this would not be a case that I would be willing to take on a contingency fee basis, as I don't see any way of realistically collecting from a woman who does not have the resources to home a dog. But if you wanted to pay hourly, I am available to draft a demand letter and possibly file a lawsuit. However, I would expect the attorney fees to run into thousands of dollars. The costs of the attorney fees would likely exceed the retail value of the dog.

The most cost-effective way to legally address the situation would be to take her to small claims court and request injunctive relief to receive the return of the dog. Attorneys are not allowed in small claims court. However, you could consult with an attorney for coaching on how to best present your case in small claims court.

Of couse, you could try your best to maintain family relationships and work things out informally.

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