Fort Valley, GA asked in Civil Rights, Criminal Law, Animal / Dog Law and Federal Crimes for Florida

Q: My friend owns a non-profit sancturary and some of her cats where stolen. The police are saying it is a civil matter.

What can she do to try and recover them? They know who did but dont know what she did with them. They maybe on some property the person owns but how would you go about legally checking the premises for them? They have asked around and none of the animal rescues or animal control have seen them and they are all microchipped. This person is considered dangerous and may of harmed the animals. The police arent wanting to help and keep saying it is a civil matter.

1 Lawyer Answer
Charles M.  Baron
Charles M. Baron
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Hollywood, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Not sure if you're getting the whole story. When the police say it's only a civil matter, it's usually because there's an ownership dispute between the person missing the property and the person who took the property. Another possibility, I suppose, is the other person just denying she knows anything about the cats, and the police telling your friend, "She denies it, and you have shown us no evidence of her taking them, so there's nothing we can do - make it a civil matter if you wish." So the first step is to determine which of those scenarios it is. If there's an ownership dispute, your friend can (A) hire an attorney to demand return of the cats, or (B) skip that step and file a lawsuit for replevin (that is, for a court order to turn over the personal property). If the other person denies taking the cats, the question is, what evidence is there that she did it? Was there an eyewitness? Did the other person express a desire to have the cats? Were the cats seen on her property? Your friend must have more than a hunch in order for either law enforcement or a civil court to entertain the matter. If there is some evidence, and the police refuse to take action, try the local State Attorney's Office.

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