Sunol, CA asked in Animal / Dog Law for California

Q: Person found a dog, they also located the owner - but the finder now refuses to return it to the owner

The dog was found at Joshua Tree park, the finder proceeded to take the dog and drive it 150 miles away to the San Diego area. The finder then was made aware of a Lost Dog report posted on a Joshua Tree radio station site that matched the dogs description. It was confirmed the dog he found was the dog reported missing. The finder and owner spoke by phone, the The finder decided he wanted to purchase the dog from the owner, but the owner declined; he considers the dog his family member. Now, the finder is refusing to return the dog - he claims the "owner" doesn't have proof of ownership, but he also simply wants to keep the dog. The owner is distraught. This has all happened over the course of just a few days. What should the owner do to force the finder to return his dog?

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

A: Call the police. Report the dog stolen. If the police won't intervene, sue in Small Claims court. You can sue for an Order to return property, and you can also seek a money judgment for "loss of use" of your property at a daily rate for the reasonable rental value. That is going to be hard to value, but it is a theory of property law.

On the other hand, the owner may owe the finder for the service he provided in saving the dog, at a daily kenneling rate.

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

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