Mill Spring, NC asked in Animal / Dog Law for Indiana

Q: I was visiting my parents with our cat. Their neighbor baited and trapped it and had it spayed what recourse do I have?

My dad ask him if he did it and he admitted it,even told him where he took it to have it done. He sign papers at the vet stating he owned the cat and was responsible for it. We are from Kentucky and were visiting my parents in elwood in.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Charles Candiano
Charles Candiano
  • Chicago, IL
  • Licensed in Indiana

A: Presumably, the trap was set on the neighbor's property so the cat could not have been trapped unless it was out of your control, on the neighbor's property. If your father's neighbor does this routinely, to decrease the surplus population of feral cats, it is commendable that he was willing to spend several hundred dollars in that endeavor. If you had a rare, purebred cat that you intended to breed, it should have been safeguarded. In other words, when you travel, you should board it with your veterinarian or another reputable boarding service. If this was a rare, purebred cat that you intended to breed, the fact that you allowed it to wander around the neighborhood, like any other feral cat, without any ID makes you sufficiently contributorily negligent. The extent of your negligence would be such that even if you do lose thousands of dollars from the sale of its kittens, you could never recover. Indiana uses modified comparative negligence. Under that rule, a party who is determined to be 51% at fault cannot make any recovery at all. So under the scenario where this is an expensive, pedigree cat that was intended to be bred, you probably have no legal recourse.

Pragmatically, you will be hard-pressed to find a judge or jury that is going to believe your father's neighbor went out of his way to seek veterinary care, for your cat, that HE paid for, as an act that was intended to punish you.

Assuming that the cat is a pet that you never intended to breed, it should be spayed and the younger, the better, for the cat's own health. If anything, you were unjustly enriched because your cat has had the benefit of being spayed by a licensed veterinarian without your having to pay anything at all.

As to recourse under that scenario, you can thank him, you can pay him, or both

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