San Lorenzo, CA asked in Animal / Dog Law for New Mexico

Q: Can you sue an animal shelter for knowingly selling your chipped cat to someone?

My boyfriend used to have a cat that was completely his, he payed for it, chipped it, neutered it, vaccinated it and everything but it had accidentally got out one day and someone took it to the local shelter because they thought it was a stray. The shelter checked for a chip and contacted my boyfriends family letting them know they had their cat. During the period between them contacting them about their lost cat and them retrieving it, a family begged them to adopt that cat and the shelter accepted their money and sold it to them. The reason we know this is because a friend of my boyfriends dad worked at this shelter when it happened. Can we sue them for knowingly selling the cat to someone?

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1 Lawyer Answer

A: In most cases, an animal shelter must keep an animal for a fixed period of time (3 days or 5 days is common) to allow the owner to claim the animal before either destroying the animal or allowing an adoption. The time period typically runs from the time the animal is received by the shelter not from when an owner is contacted. In many instances, the shelter has no way of identifying or contacting the owner.

A shocking number of pet owners do not promptly retrieve their pet from a shelter even when notified.

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