Scottsdale, AZ asked in Animal / Dog Law, Criminal Law, Civil Litigation and Small Claims for Arizona

Q: The person we had TEMPORARILY caring 4 our dog as we searched for a place to live, is trying to keep him. What can I do

Someone had been watching our dog as we looked for a place to live. Among other things, the pandemic prolonged the time it took to do so (4 months). Right before we were to contact the guy to get our dog, he randomly texted and said he killed the dog and threw him in the fire. Devistated, we immediately called the cops. They went to the address & thankfully found that the dog was alive, but the guy (who we find out told us a fake name from the start) was refusing to return him. The cop told us it was going to be a civil matter now. We have vet bills, witnesses, pictures, etc.. to prove he's ours.

We even have the texts between the guy & ourselves CLEARLY stating it was only a temporary thing. We had also visited, & kept in close contact with the guy. Shouldn't we be able to just have police standby as we go get our dog back? Or is court the only option? And if so, what are the specific steps I need to take to pursue that? Could we sue him for emotional distress? We just want our dog.

1 Lawyer Answer
Mike Branum
Mike Branum
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Saint George, UT
  • Licensed in Arizona

A: Unfortunately, it is not as easy as merely requesting a civil standby. I have not filed a case like this personally, but I believe you should be able to file a case in justice court instead of at the superior court level since all you are seeking is possession of the property (dog). The fees will be lower in justice court and the court should have more patience working with unrepresented parties.

You will need a court order granting you possession of the animal before law enforcement will provide much assistance.

A lawsuit for emotional distress is almost guaranteed to fail. No attorney is going to take that case on contingency, so you will need to pay a substantial retainer and you are nearly certain to never see that money again.

I know how very close pet owners become with their furry children. I hope you are able to get your issue resolved.

1 user found this answer helpful

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