Elkton, MD asked in Criminal Law and Animal / Dog Law for Maryland

Q: Hi I found an abandone puppy over 1 month ago no tags or nothing can they claim him after this long after being abandon

They abandone la his puppy for over 1 month and sudden they want the puppy back what should I do after I spend in vet care meds food and Carr for this puppy and no one claimed him this long

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

A: The person claiming property was abandoned has the burden of proof to present evidence of abandonment and persuade the judge of that fact. Just because you find a puppy or any other item does not mean it was abandoned. It may have been mislaid, lost, or neglectfully left on its own, without any intention to abandon it. Under Maryland common law, abandonment entails the relinquishment of any interest to the property, and may be shown by evidence that the owner has walked off and left the property with no intention to again claim it or exercise rights of ownership over it. Once the fact of abandonment has been established, the person who abandoned it cannot simply claim later that they changed heir mind. Once someone has claimed abandoned property, it is theirs. However, be mindful that lost, mislaid or property neglectfully(or irresponsibly) left behind is not abandoned. If you take possession of property (a pet is deemed property) which is not abandoned, and refuse to return it to the rightful owner, you may be charged with theft. You could bring the dog to the county animal services division of the police, and report animal abuse/neglect against the owner, as well as request to adopt the animal if the animal is removed from the owner's possession due to their neglect.

If you incurred expenses for the care and treatment of the animal, you may sue the owner of the dog for those expenses which you reasonably incurred for the care of their dog, which benefit ought to be paid for and reimbursed by the owner of he dog (this is known as a claim for unjust enrichment--meaning, it would be inequitable for the dog owner to keep the benefit of the services/money you incurred for caring for their dog without paying for that benefit).

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