Asked in Animal / Dog Law and Small Claims for California

Q: Shasta Co.,CA I've got some questions regarding animal laws, and animal theft. I'm trying to get my stolen dog back.

My dog was being watched. Without my knowledge or consent he was taken to a veterinarian, and now being withheld from me.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Animal & Dog Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I'm sorry to hear about the situation with your dog. Animal laws and regulations can be complex and vary by state and locality, but here are some general principles that may be helpful in your situation:

Animal theft: In California, it is illegal to take, possess, or steal another person's animal without their permission. This is considered theft or larceny, and is punishable by law. If you believe that someone has taken your dog without your consent, you may want to report it to the police or animal control.

Animal custody disputes: If there is a dispute over ownership or custody of an animal, it may be necessary to seek legal assistance. You may want to consult with an attorney who is familiar with animal law and can help you navigate the legal system to recover your dog.

Veterinary records: In California, veterinary records are considered confidential and protected by law. However, as the owner of the dog, you may have a right to access the records, especially if they relate to treatment that was performed without your consent. You may want to contact the veterinarian to request a copy of the records or to discuss the situation.

Small claims court: If you are unable to resolve the situation through other means, you may consider filing a small claims court action to recover your dog or seek compensation for any damages or losses you have suffered.

Overall, it's important to gather as much information as possible about the situation, including any communications or agreements that were made regarding the care of your dog. You may also want to document any evidence of the theft or withholding of your dog, such as witness statements or photographs. This can help support your case and protect your legal rights.

Here are some relevant laws and regulations in California that may apply to your situation:

Animal theft: Under California Penal Code Section 487, theft of property exceeding $950 in value is considered grand theft and is punishable by imprisonment in a state prison. The theft of an animal without the owner's consent may be considered animal theft, which is punishable under California law.

Animal custody disputes: California Civil Code Section 3340 provides that a person who finds and takes possession of lost property, including an animal, is required to make reasonable efforts to find the rightful owner and return the property. In addition, California Family Code Section 6320 provides that a court may issue a restraining order in cases involving domestic violence, which may include orders for the possession or care of an animal.

Veterinary records: California Business and Professions Code Section 4857.5 provides that veterinary medical records are confidential and may not be disclosed except under certain circumstances, such as with the consent of the animal owner or a court order.

Small claims court: California Code of Civil Procedure Section 116.110 allows individuals to file small claims court actions for claims up to $10,000 in damages, including claims related to the recovery of stolen property or the possession of an animal.

It's important to note that these laws are general in nature and may not apply to every situation. If you have specific questions or concerns about the legal issues involved in your situation, it's a good idea to consult with an experienced attorney who can provide guidance and help protect your legal rights.

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