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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
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    2

    Default Does an Animal Rescue Have to Refund Fees Paid if an Adoption Fails

    My question involves getting a refund of our adoption fee for a dog we adopted from a rescue, that ended up going back to the rescue. The rescue is out of NY, the dogs come from the south, and we live in the northeast. The rescue 'tags' animals at kill shelters down south (i.e.-puts a rescue hold on them so they aren't killed), then sets up transportation northbound for adoption. Their adoptions fees cover the cost to pull, vet, and transport the animals.

    If an animal doesn't end up being a good fit in a home, the rescue demands it be returned to them (they like to call this part of their contract, but since animals are property, and a fee is exchanged as payment, this really can't be held up in court). Given that these rescues are 501c3's, and are essentially in the business of providing (legally flipping) animals in exchange for the fee (where the majority of their money comes from), we are still looking at an exchange of value. There is no written rule on their paperwork that fees are non-refundable. We requested the return of the dog 6 months after adopting it (yes, we tried that long to make it work). All of this is still within the same tax year, yet the rescue owner stated our fee would not be returned given the amount of time that had passed. Keep in mind that this rescue was operating in our state illegally, and even isn't fully up to snuff in her own state, but she does maintain her 501c3 status with the IRS.

    I would still like to send her a Demand Notice for the return of our money. Does anyone on here know what IRS rules would apply in this situation of her being an animal rescuer, using a 501c3, and there being a physical exchange of a dog and money? It has now been 5 months since she took the dog back.
    Thank you for your input.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    2,652

    Default Re: 501c3 Animal Rescue Adoption Fee with Returned Dog - Refundable

    This isn't an IRS situation. It is simple contract law.

    You are free to right a demand letter to whomever you want.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: 501c3 Animal Rescue Adoption Fee with Returned Dog - Refundable

    Well I was thinking it would be a question based on their 501c3 due to my interest in getting the money back, with it being a donation to a non-profit. But perhaps the IRS doesn't care about returns then? Is it plausible to demand money back 5 months after she took the dog, in regards to the contract law? Her "contract" has numerous holes in it, but I've moved passed the idea of taking her to court (for a while we actually changed our mind and wanted to keep the dog, at which time she started threatening legal pursuit after us... clearly she was oblivious to how weak her case would have been, but she 'stole' the dog from us anyway. We let it go, but she still has our money.) Thanks!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    2,652

    Default Re: 501c3 Animal Rescue Adoption Fee with Returned Dog - Refundable

    If you have "moved pass the idea of taking her to court" don't waste your time with a demand letter.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    7,088

    Default Re: 501c3 Animal Rescue Adoption Fee with Returned Dog - Refundable

    Quote Quoting Katland99
    View Post
    Does anyone on here know what IRS rules would apply in this situation of her being an animal rescuer, using a 501c3, and there being a physical exchange of a dog and money?
    No part of the tax law governs this. Organizations exempt under IRC 501(c)(3) have to ensure their activities further their exempt purpose, but the rules do not go into detail on how the organization must accomplish that or how it deals with individual transactions with the public.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    1,004

    Default Re: 501c3 Animal Rescue Adoption Fee with Returned Dog - Refundable

    "with it being a donation to a non-profit. "

    You didn't "donate" anything. You paid an adoption fee for a dog that did not work out for your family. Such adoption fees don't begin to cover the cost of fostering, vetting and transporting dogs (and cats) from southern states up north to other rescue groups. Ask me how I know; I foster both cats and dogs for several such rescue groups. The cost of feeding, worming, gas to drive back and forth to the vet several times to ready the fosters for the transport up north. required vaccinations (at least three), rabies vaccinations, giardia testing, fecal tests, spaying or neutering, daily cleaning up after puppies and/or kittens/cats and finally, driving to meet transport and transport hundreds of miles don't begin to cover your adoption fees.


    This ain't Walmart. Adoption fees aren't "refundable" if you return the dog (or cat).

    Gail

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    16,671

    Default Re: 501c3 Animal Rescue Adoption Fee with Returned Dog - Refundable

    Quote Quoting Katland99
    View Post
    Well I was thinking it would be a question based on their 501c3 due to my interest in getting the money back, with it being a donation to a non-profit. But perhaps the IRS doesn't care about returns then? Is it plausible to demand money back 5 months after she took the dog, in regards to the contract law? Her "contract" has numerous holes in it, but I've moved passed the idea of taking her to court (for a while we actually changed our mind and wanted to keep the dog, at which time she started threatening legal pursuit after us... clearly she was oblivious to how weak her case would have been, but she 'stole' the dog from us anyway. We let it go, but she still has our money.) Thanks!
    You keep insisting on something (the relevance of the 501c3) that has nothing to do with the contractual issue between you and the rescue service.

    You pay a fee you get a dog.

    In the absence of an express refund policy, there is no refund.

    It's that simple.

    If you still don't understand that, you are free to sue the rescue service in small claims court and see how that goes.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,817

    Default Re: 501c3 Animal Rescue Adoption Fee with Returned Dog - Refundable

    Quote Quoting Katland99
    View Post
    Well I was thinking it would be a question based on their 501c3 due to my interest in getting the money back, with it being a donation to a non-profit.
    If you made a donation to a charitable organization, then you didn't pay a fee -- you made a donation.

    If you in fact paid a fee, then the fee covers whatever was agreed at the time of your contract. The fact that the adoption fails does not of itself mean that you get the fee back, nor does your compliance with a contractual agreement to return the animal to the charity in the event that the adoption failed.

    I cannot review the contract to comment on any "holes", but it's unlikely that the "holes" would result in your being entitled to a refund. For an analysis of the contract, you would need to have it reviewed by a lawyer in the state in which this transaction occurred. You may have remedies under state law, depending on what you mean by "operating in our state illegally", but we lack the information necessary to comment on that issue.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    672

    Default Re: 501c3 Animal Rescue Adoption Fee with Returned Dog - Refundable

    If you really think that this rescue has made ANY money by "legally flipping" dogs, you are seriously delusional. Unless you "paid" $400 or more (depending on the condition of the dog at intake) they "made" nothing. Gail explained that well. Even then, that money would have gone to Vet and care for another animal. I know several people who are involved in these transports, and they are always strapped for funding. You didn't fit with the dog, okay. They took the dog back, as agreed in your contract. That is best for the dog, which is of course, your FIRST concern. If you don't feel the "Rescue" is legit, why did you take the dog in the first place?

    You seem to waver between "fee" and "donation". Since it went to a 501(c)(3), consider it a donation, and write it off.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    23,820

    Default Re: 501c3 Animal Rescue Adoption Fee with Returned Dog - Refundable

    I'll cut to the chase here.

    No. An Animal Rescue does not have to refund fees paid if an adoption fails. Not unless there is a clear and unambiguous contract that expressly says they do.

    In the absence of that, you've got nothing.

    I hope that this is now clear to you. Next question, please.

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