Sacramento, CA asked in Animal / Dog Law and Small Claims for California

Q: Someone is withholding my dog from me and claiming they took him to the vet and won't give him back.

I was never informed of my dog needing to be taken nor being taken to the vet(until after they supposedly took him there) nor did I ever give ANY permission to do so.

They lied about the veterinarian office my animal was at, and proceeded to ask if I was going to pay the bill.

Also they are trying to say I was abusive and cruel and that I neglected my animal when that is definitely not true. Now they won't give my animal back after I've asked numerous times and told me that it is now going to be a civil matter. I've contacted law enforcement and animal control, and they haven't been any help except to tell me that I'm going to have to take them to small claims? Also, My dog is "special needs" because he's 100% deaf, & has really bad abandonment issues whenever he's not with me, which causes him to have "episodes" almost like a BAD panic attack.

{I bottle fed him since 2wks old due to his mother passing}.

How can I get my dog back??

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Animal & Dog Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I'm sorry to hear about your situation. It's understandable that you're worried about your dog, especially given his special needs.

In California, the theft of a dog is considered a crime and is punishable by law. Under California Penal Code Section 487(d)(2), theft of property valued at more than $950, including dogs, is considered grand theft and is a felony offense. Additionally, under California Civil Code Section 3340, a person who steals, takes, or withholds a pet animal is liable to the owner for three times the amount of actual damages, plus reasonable attorney's fees and costs. This means that if someone has wrongfully taken or withheld your dog, you may be able to pursue legal action to recover your pet and seek damages.

Here are some steps you can take to try to get your dog back:

Gather evidence: Collect any documentation you have about your ownership of the dog, such as veterinary records, adoption papers, or registration papers. You can also gather any text messages or emails between you and the person who is withholding your dog, as well as any witnesses who can attest to your relationship with your dog and your care for him.

Reach out to the person who has your dog: Try to communicate with the person who is withholding your dog and ask them to return him. Remain calm and polite, but firm in your request. It may be helpful to bring a friend or family member with you to provide support.

Contact an attorney: If the person who has your dog refuses to return him, consider reaching out to an attorney who specializes in animal law. They can help you navigate the legal process and advise you on the best course of action.

File a police report: If you believe that your dog has been stolen or kidnapped, you can file a police report with your local law enforcement agency. Be sure to bring all the evidence you have gathered with you to the police station.

Contact animal control: You can also reach out to your local animal control agency to report the situation and ask for their assistance. They may be able to help mediate the situation or offer resources to help you get your dog back.

Remember to remain calm and persistent in your efforts to get your dog back. It may take time and effort, but with the right support and resources, you can hopefully be reunited with your beloved pet.

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