Norfolk, VA asked in Animal / Dog Law for Virginia

Q: My boyfriend just passed away a week ago and we adopted a pitbull and have papers for her and we're only allowed to put

We were only allowed to put her in one person's name and we put her in his name well his legal wife and they've been separate for 10 14 years is trying to get my dog she has going as far as stealing all the dogs papers out of the house cuz she's a special needs dog she is in a well-loving home and I was supposed to go down to the SPCA and transfer into my name well his legal wife called down there and I don't know what she told them people but they want me to return her and we can both put an application in for her which isn't there it's not fair to take her out of her home and put her in jail again she just lost her daddy she still walking around here crying for him and the SPCA knows that we both were there for her adoption. What rights do I have

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1 Lawyer Answer
Juliet Piccone
Juliet Piccone
  • Animal & Dog Law Lawyer
  • Greenwood Village, CO

A: I am so sorry for your loss. Dogs are considered personal property. The decedent’s personal property can only be legally transferred to another person by virtue of either a will or by intestate succession. Either way, the wife has no rights unless she applies to be the personal representative of your boyfriend’s estate and further asks the probate court to force you to give the dog to her as heir at law. At that point you could contest his sole ownership of the puppy and she would have to prove he alone owned the dog. The adoption paperwork itself does not conclusively prove sole ownership and since the signor of the adoption contract is deceased, the SPCA has no rights in the dog as any rights were with the party to the contract who is now deceased.

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