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Pennsylvania Animal / Dog Law Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: Can my ex come back for my dog after a year?

My ex and I had a dog together. We ended our relationship over a year ago but the dogs micro-chip is still registered under her name. I’ve always been the primary caretaker for the dog. My ex has now moved out of state to SC, since the dog is registered under her can she come take the dog back... Read more »

Cary B. Hall
Cary B. Hall answered on Apr 12, 2019

Probably not. Pets are considered property under Pennsylvania law, just like a table, lamp, etc. If you've paid for the upkeep of the pet for the past year, a court will likely let you keep the pet. If she comes for the pet, you can politely decline her request. At that point, she'll... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: Consequences of not giving shared dog back to ex husband since he wants to take him out of state

My ex husband and split taking care of a dog weve had for 9 yrs. A birthday gift to me. I let the dog stay at his house because i couldnt find a place that took his breed. I still go after work to take care of him sometimes and take him for a week or two at a time every month as well as the vets as... Read more »

Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing answered on Mar 18, 2019

Talk to your lawyer. Who is the owner under the license? That's what the police will look at.

1 Answer | Asked in Consumer Law and Animal / Dog Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: Hello I purchased a purebred chihuahua puppy breeder now put in shelter and shelter won’t give back anything I can do

3 puppies where sold to families money was taken now there dogs are in the shelter and the shelter won’t let them come get them or adopt them do they have any legal grounds to fight the shelter the puppies where $1,000s of dollars they’re pure bred chihuahua puppies I have proof of purchase and... Read more »

Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing answered on Mar 18, 2019

Ask to meet with the shelter manager and find out why. If they don't satisfy you ask the police if you can file a complaint with them for not giving you your property. Maybe call the state ASPCA first to get an idea of the law regarding shelters.

2 Answers | Asked in Animal / Dog Law and Personal Injury for Pennsylvania on
Q: While walking my 8 year old blue merle collie on a leash my dog was struck by a vehicle-street was clear when crossing

Car came out from side street when we were already crossing. Struck my dog, I got pulled down backward by the dog leash. I screamed for person to stop. She never looked up. My dog was able to get up an get across street. I ran after her. Person stopped briefly and left. I got make/model/color of... Read more »

Michael H. Fienman
Michael H. Fienman answered on Feb 6, 2019

Your case can be pursued both criminally and civilly.

With respect to criminal prosecution, it is not your decision whether charges are filed. The local police department that responded to your call and the district attorney for the county in which this incident occurred have complete...
Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: my ex wife took our dog to SPCA without my permission

My wife and I split up and she moved 8 hours away. She took our dog to the local SPCA. When I went to go get her, the employee, who is friends with my ex, stated that the dog has already been adopted and refused to tell me who adopted my dog. I had the money for the adoption in hand but the... Read more »

Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing answered on Feb 4, 2019

Courts in PA generally do not get involved in animal custody. Discuss it with the lawyer handling your divorce. Possible if it was known to be jointly owned that the SPCA may have some liability but I don't see it, under the law.

1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law, Criminal Law, Family Law and Federal Crimes for Pennsylvania on
Q: I gave someone my dog to keep while his wife had cancer. He promised to give my dog back after she died. Now he won’t

I gave my dog to my uncle to help his wife feel better since she had cancer. I gave it to him under the condition that if they couldn’t take care of her anymore, to give her back to me. A year after she died, he claimed to not be able to take care of my dog anymore and asked to give her back to... Read more »

Kathryn Hilbush
Kathryn Hilbush answered on Jan 22, 2019

I doubt you can sue her for theft since your uncle handed the dog over to her. Maybe if you offer to reimburse her for the vet bills she'll return the dog. Since she seems to care enough for the dog to spend a decent amount of money on her, perhaps the nicest thing you can do for your dog is... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: My ex has left the dog with me for 2 months with no contact. Can I claim full ownership?

I have now registered the dog in my name. I have paid for his vet bills, food, grooming and dog walking. The dog was his coming into the relationship. Can he come back and take custody of the dog? Or can I claim abandonment and have full ownership?

Cary B. Hall
Cary B. Hall answered on Dec 17, 2018

I think at this point, it's pretty safe to say the dog is yours. If he wants the dog back, let him file a lawsuit against you in small claims court and then he can try to convince the court otherwise. At the very least, if a court would ever order you to return the dog to him, it would only... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: I have to keep my dogs outside for the next 6 months. There is a heated shed they have access to with fresh water?

They have access to the heated shed at all times. And always have water available to drink. Will this be okay for the winter?

Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing answered on Dec 14, 2018

Check with a vet and the humane society. They'd be the people called if there was a suspected problem.

1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: I let my Yorkiepoo visit my daughter n her girlfriend kept and licensed my dog in her grandmothers address.

Magistrate wouldn't help

Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing answered on Oct 28, 2018

You can try the police--it's conversion of a dog, but your civil remedy is what the dog is worth in market value, not it's value to you. Sorry, that's the law.

Suggest you discuss with a family therapist how to proceed as getting legal may end up breaking one or more...
Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: A friend was watching my dog while I was in Japan. He was supposed to send the dog to me after 6 months, but has cut off

all contact and said that he got the dog licensed under his name. It's been two years and I'm trying to save enough money to visit the US to get the dog back. What can I do about this?

Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing answered on Oct 11, 2018

Spend more money than the dog is worth. Fact is if you return to Japan they may not allow the dog in, and vice versa. Time to realize that this person did something wrong and just remember the vet bills are now all his responsibility.

1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law and Identity Theft for Pennsylvania on
Q: My son bought a purebred English lab Jun16,2018 she was 8wks old. Very smart. Got along with my American Staffordshire.

We didn't know we were only permitted 1 ADA dog so we ask this couple a week ago to watch her until things changed. Well they did and we were granted permission for her. Now they refuse to give her back. Even though we hold the receipts to her and her akc paperwork.

*it was only after... Read more »

Kathryn Hilbush
Kathryn Hilbush answered on Oct 3, 2018

I suggest that you go to your local district court and file a civil complaint, seeking return of your dog.

1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law, Criminal Law and Agricultural Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: How is it determined that a dog is a "dangerous dog"? and how do I go about having a dog/dogs declared as dangerous?

I live in the country (rural/farm land area - see location). My neighbor lets his dogs run loose constantly. I've let him know that under PA Dog Law he is required to keep his dogs "under his control - at ALL times" yet, he still allows them to run loose stating South Shenango... Read more »

Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing answered on Sep 11, 2018

your dog warden should be able to tell you.

1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law and Family Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: How do I get my emotional support dogs back that were wrongfully adopted out and I was refused the right to see them ?

Do you know of a good Attorney in Philadelphia that can help me?

Kathryn Hilbush
Kathryn Hilbush answered on Sep 8, 2018

I'm afraid you're going to have to be a little more specific in your question? Were they taken to a shelter by someone? Were they stolen from you?

1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: Broke up, Share a dog for 2yrs. He made the money exchange, both have been equal care takers, does GF have rights?

GF doesn't want to take the dog, just wants to share the dog. Does she have a case if she has been equally taking care of the animal and it was a decision made together to get the dog?

Cary B. Hall
Cary B. Hall answered on Sep 3, 2018

Pennsylvania does not recognize any "custody" of pets. In Pennsylvania, pets are property - just like a lamp or a sofa. If two people want to fight over a pet in court, one will get it and the other won't - and a judge will decide who if you two can't.

Best of luck to you.

1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: boyfriend/girlfriend(live together 11/2 years) boy bought dog for girl/family girl primary caregiver for dog.

she has dog in her care. who would get the dog

Cary B. Hall
Cary B. Hall answered on Aug 20, 2018

Most likely the girlfriend will keep the dog: it was a gift from boyfriend to girlfriend, and she has been the primary caretaker for the pet.

1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: My roommate took one of my cats when she moved out. What can I do to get him back?

My roommate became very attached to one of my cats and even helped with raising both cats since they were kittens but I was still their primary caretaker. I also have documents saying that I adopted both cats from an animal shelter and my name is on the vet bills as well. The stolen cat is... Read more »

Joseph D. Allen
Joseph D. Allen answered on Aug 15, 2018

The question of ownership is the key one here. It sounds like you have some good evidence in your favor on that point. Depending on how much value you place on the cat- you could hire an attorney to write a demand letter for you. The eventual suit in Maryland District Court would be for detinue-... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law and Divorce for Pennsylvania on
Q: I am getting divorced and would like to know if my spouse has any legal right to my dogs.

The dogs are currently with me and I have always been the primary care giver. I also have a message from him stating he cannot take care of them

Cary B. Hall
Cary B. Hall answered on Aug 11, 2018

Under Pennsylvania divorce law, pets are considered property, like furniture or anything else in your house. If you two can't agree who gets the dogs, a court certainly will -- just like it would distribute any other pieces of marital property. There will be no "custody" order for... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law and Divorce for Pennsylvania on
Q: I am getting divorced and would like to know if my spouse has any legal right to try and take my dogs from me.

I have always been the primary care giver for the dogs and they are currently living with me and have a message from him stating he cannot take care of them

Kathryn Hilbush
Kathryn Hilbush answered on Aug 10, 2018

Have you discussed this with your lawyer? How were the dogs acquired? Did you purchase the from a breeder or a store? Did you adopt them from a rescue? Are you the one who took them to the vet? Usually, under any of these circumstances, there's a name listed as the new owner. Honestly, the... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: Estranged family member abandoned dog and left him in my care. How can I claim legal ownership/rights to him?

I've been taking care of my sister's dog for over a year since she passed away. Her husband moved out and took everything he owns except the dog. He never said anything to me,(as we are not on speaking terms) but he expressed to another family member that he was leaving the dog with me... Read more »

Kathryn Hilbush
Kathryn Hilbush answered on Aug 6, 2018

I'm not quite sure there's a good answer to your question but here's what I think. Unless the dog is a pedigree with papers, whoever adopted/bought the dog originally would be considered the original owner. In my experience, when people then give the dog away, unless it's to a... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Animal / Dog Law for Pennsylvania on
Q: Is there a law that you have to pay amount of money to prove that you can take care of a dog for a year.

Dog being shipped from New Mexico to Pennsylvania in the USA

Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing answered on Jul 18, 2018

No.

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