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Fiance's mom gifted us with dog after she abused it and was asked to give it up by she wants it back!

Rochester, NY |

Fiance's mom gifted us a dog she owned in summer 2012 after she was witnessed by an ex-b/f and party goers to abuse the animal, and she was asked to give it up by family. She authorized the vet to have us listed as owners, and gave us the rabies cert. Shortly after, there was a dispute on a separate issue, and the mother demanded the dog back. We found that she never had the dog licensed or provided fundamental preventive care, which we did at the time. She called the police several times, who refused to do anything b/c it was a civil matter. The issue was dropped, but more recently she has resumed filing reports about theft of the dog, which in one case led to cops coming to the house, but again stating it was a civil matter. Does the license and vet bills mean we own the dog?

This is also part of a case we are trying to make for telephone harassment and filing false reports on this and other issues. We have licenses for the dog in two towns (moved), probably $800 in vet bills aside from food, toys, clothes (yes, ik). Also have the rabies cert, and agreement of the ex b/f to testify to the abuse allegation. She has the purchase records and AKC papers, but never registered the dog. Dog has now been in our possession for about 15 months. I've also seen one lawyer comment that we can threaten to counter sue for vet bills, but also a $30-50/day boarding fee is she thinks she wants to take us to court over the dog. Would a court really award us $13,500 to $22,500 for boarding? Even if we win, or court never happens, can we report her for having the dog unlicensed for 6 years?

Attorney Answers 3


You have enough proof you are the owner of the dog. This woman sounds extremely unstable. Its probably not worth it to sue her but help the prosecutor file harassment charges and see if you can get a temporary restraining order.

Providing general answers are meant to help the poster to understand some complex legal concepts and in no way creates an attorney-client relationship.

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Thank you for your response Ms. Holton (Counsel Holton?). Yeah my future mother in law is a real treat and we are working on getting her out of both of our lives for good- starting with an OOP tomorrow. I was concerned regarding ownership, because the police officer today said that since the mother held the purchase documents, that she is the rightful owner, but that it would be a civil matter. This flies in the face of article 7 of agriculture and markets law for NYS, which defines "Owner of record" as whoever last held the license for the dog.



I agree that there is unlikely to be any additional meaningful dispute about the dog; she doesn't have any money to take us to court and would make an asshat of herself trying to represent her own case. Would you mind commenting on Article 7 Agriculture and markets law that I linked to above? Does owner of record, as defined there, settle this firmly since we have the licenses and she never held one for the animal? Also, regarding harassment, since we are getting an OOP this week and she is unlikely to breach that, can we still call the local PD and encourage them to file harassment charges based on the VMs and calls we have gotten over the last 6wks? Thank you for your time- we are excited to put this situation behind us!


If she sues you the fact that she had the vet list you as owner is very strong evidence in your favor.

I am a former federal and State prosecutor and have been doing criminal defense work for over 17 years. I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012 and 2013. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. Martindale-Hubbell has given me its highest rating - AV Preeminent - in the areas of Criminal Law, Personal Injury, and Litigation. According to Martindale-Hubbell”AV Preeminent is a significant rating accomplishment - a testament to the fact that a lawyer's peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence." Fewer than 8% of attorneys achieve an AV Preeminent rating. I also have the highest ranking – “superb” – on Avvo. The above answer, and any follow up comments or emails is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.

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Thank you for your response Mr. Rothstein.


You might follow up with what the lawyer told you.

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