Los Angeles, CA asked in Animal / Dog Law for California

Q: Dog was chipped - Shelter did NOT contact owner before adopting out. How to sue for replevin?

Dog was reported missing to chip company (AVID). All contact info updated. Dog was not located. Fastforward to a year later, AVID contacts owner to say that someone is trying to register the chip in the dog to themselves. Says they adopted from a shelter. This is the 1st contact from AVID that the dog has ever been located. Owner reported dog missing to AVID on 1/11/20. Records show that shelter adopted dog out on 1/23/20 and there are no records that shelter contacted AVID before adopting out the dog. Shelter did not contact owner. Owner wants dog back. Is this a case with a good chance of success for suing for replevin and what are the next best steps to take?

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

A: You should check your state law to see if shelters have immunity from liability as long as they post a dog as found on their website for whatever the statutorily required time frame. In Colorado where I practice public and private shelters are supposed to hold pets a minimum of 3 days if no ID, and 5 days of ID and are supposed to try to contact the owner if ID is located, which would be the chip. Chips sometimes can’t be read, and without knowing what the reason is for not contacting the company (or maybe they will claim they did) hard to determine if there was negligence.

But, that’s a monetary damages claim against the shelter for the replacement or fair market value of your dog. The person who adopted the dog will be considered a bone fides purchaser for value who innocent of any wrongdoing and will use that as a defense to any replevin claim. And that’s if you can even get their information because the shelter likely won’t give it out.

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