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  1. #1

    Default How to Get Your Pets Back After They're Adopted Without Your Permission

    My question involves personal property located in the State of: Tennessee

    I will try to make this as short and to the point as possible and then will be glad to clarify anything.

    We lost our home last summer. A friend agreed to take in two pets until we got a new place. She had them while we were in a living situation in which we could not have our pets. She did not want to continue watching them so she took them to a pet rescue group and would not tell us where, stating she "forgot" where. After a lot of investigation we have found them and wrote to the organization asking for the return of them. They have been separated and adopted out of state. I do not know what our so called friend said to the organization but no one ever reached out to us when they were taken there and initially placed in foster homes.

    The organization has ignored us.

    My research indicates that pets are considered "property" in this state. Does the organization have to return our pets as they were (in our eyes) stolen from us? Do we need to file a police report or take this to small claims as a lawsuit? The organization charged an adoption fee which is a little less than the value of the pets. Alternatively can we request that they reimburse us that fee instead of returning the pets? We really want the pets back but do not want to go to court or get anyone in trouble. Also if it does go to court can we sue for court costs/legal fees and missed day of work?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How to Get Your Pets Back After They're Adopted Without Your Permission

    If you are trying to recover financial compensation, sue your 'friend'.

    To recover the pets, you need to know where they are -- and if they're in other states, you will have to take legal steps in those states to try to recover the pets. If you don't yet know where they are, you would have to sue the rescue organization to get that information. That could be a very expensive and protracted process and, without knowing what other states are involved, it's difficult to promise you that you'll get a result that you'll find satisfactory.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How to Get Your Pets Back After They're Adopted Without Your Permission

    Your recourse for money is against your "friend."

    Your dogs weren't "stolen." At best it's a contract or bailment issue between you and your "friend."

    Accept the unfortunate fact that your pets are gone, likely never to return.

    Neither the rescue agency nor the current owners have done anything wrong or illegal according to what you have written so far.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: How to Get Your Pets Back After They're Adopted Without Your Permission

    You have gotten good advice. What I would do is check out the "rescue" and see if they are a 501(c)(3), what their reputation is, and if they seem to have successful placements. How have you (other than what sounds like a single letter) tried to contact the rescue? They should be willing to talk to you, but I don't think they will be cooperative in returning your pets. And I don't see you recovering the adoption fee. They will be able to prove the costs associated with re-homing a pet, and that they placed the critters in good faith. If they have a good history, then they put considerable effort in finding good homes, and a safe environment before placing a pet. How long ago were they adopted?

    Go after your "friends".

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How to Get Your Pets Back After They're Adopted Without Your Permission

    As someone who has had pets of friends dumped on them several times in my life, I would bet that your "friends" have a very different story to tell about this situation. Caring for other people's pets while they struggle with their daily lives (partly due to their own really bad choices and decisions!) can be an expensive and frustrating situation.

    Were you buying food for them, providing for their medical needs? Were they lots of trouble, were they destructive to your friends property? Did they require lots of attention? Did the friends ask you to take the pets back ever? This would not play well in small claims court if it happened, regardless of your situation at the time. I would, quite frankly, be happy to know that my pets were not taken to a shelter and euthanized, they were "rehomed" and placed in new situations. Your friend probably did not do this the first week or two of having the pets.

    As far as suing your former friends goes, I'd suggest you give up that idea.

  6. #6

    Default Re: How to Get Your Pets Back After They're Adopted Without Your Permission

    I appreciate the advice but cannot wrap my head around how anyone would be allowed to keep stolen property. Let's say they weren't pets. Let's say that you had to quickly move someplace with very limited parking and that you had an extra vehicle, a truck, which your friend agreed to allow it to be parked on his property until you moved somewhere else with ample parking. And let's say that the friend simply got tired of it being on his property so he takes the truck to a junkyard. You find this out after the fact but your friend will not tell you where and says he forgot. Meanwhile someone at the junkyard then buys the vehicle, be it parts or whatnot. So it is cool with the law for anyone to do this?Replace truck with boat or any other item that is deemed "property". I would think that if the owner had proof that the property was theirs it would have to be returned or else reimbursed.

    No the adopters didn't do wrong but I do believe the shelter should have tried to contact us. Unless my "friend" did not inform them of us. Either way, morally they should return our pets. We had them for 8 years. My "friend" agreed to keep them until we could get into a pet friendly place and we did provide food even though she wanted to give them something different. Also this was a "return the favor" type situation. Ironically I used to care for her pets.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How to Get Your Pets Back After They're Adopted Without Your Permission

    You are have every right to track down the people who acquired the pets from the rescue, and to hire lawyers to sue them in the states in which they are situated, to try to get court orders compelling the return of your pets. The laws that will apply to your efforts will be the laws of the state or states in which the pets are presently located. Laws are different in every state.

    Vehicles have titles through which ownership and change of ownership is formally tracked. Pets do not. It makes a difference.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How to Get Your Pets Back After They're Adopted Without Your Permission

    You gave these pets to the 'friends. I'd guess that the length of time that the other party had the pets could play into this but I think you'll have a long and hard uphill struggle.

    Comparing pets to titled property is ridiculous.
    "Where do those stairs go?"
    "They go up!"

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How to Get Your Pets Back After They're Adopted Without Your Permission

    How long did you tell your friend she might be stuck with keeping your pets and how long did this actually last?

    Gail

  10. #10
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    Default Re: How to Get Your Pets Back After They're Adopted Without Your Permission

    Your microchips can prove ownership. If the rescue e-homed them without contacting the registered owner listed by the chips, they may be liable in some way.

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