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My dog escaped from my backyard. Few days later I found him in Animal shelter and went to retrieve him. They asked me for $700..

Santa Clara, CA |

I am disabled and don't have that kind of money. I asked for payment plan-they refused and told me that they will put him to sleep or place for adoption. Shelter is Joint Authority founded by 4 cities and city officials are on board of directors.
The way I see it:
1. Charged me for services that I did not authorize.
2. Acting in bad faith.
3. Asking for ransom.
4. Took possession of my property with intent to destroy it, or give it away, without court order which is violation of Constitutional rights, Amendments IV, V and XIV. (I have their admission in writing.)
5. Intentionally damaging my property.
6. Animal mutilation and exposing animal to needles suffering. (CA Penal Code 597)
7. Intentional and/or reckless infliction of emotional distress.

How to proceed?

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Best answer

    If your dog was off your property, then animal control has the authority to impound your animal. They have a duty to contact you if your dog is tagged or chipped and they obtain that information. They are allowed to charge your for medical / boarding / fees for the time that they have custody of your dog. You have said "a few days" so $700 sounds very high. Here is a link to L.A. County Impound fees.

    Unfortunately, the legal theories you listed above do not apply here because as a dog owner, you have a duty to comply with the ordinances applicable to dog ownership. When your dog escaped and was "at large" in the community, public safety becomes and issue and animal control can impound your dog as a result. If your dog was not licensed and had not received updated rabies and other vaccines, animal control would have given your dog the necessary vaccines to make it safe for your dog to be boarded with other dogs.

    You will need to raise the money for your dog to be returned. I suggest asking friends and family to chip in. Unfortunately, the impound fees will increase with every day your dog is at the shelter.

    This post and any other internet postings are for informational purposes only. Internet postings are not legal advice. No comments, answers, or other postings should be taken as legal advice. Internet postings do not create an attorney-client relationship. Receipt or viewing of content of an internet posting does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. There is no representation, warranty or guarantee that postings or comments are accurate. Please feel free to give us a call at the office if you would like a formal case evaluation. Best of luck with your case. Talitha.

  2. Unfortunately, none of the legal theories you mention above are applicable to your situation. They can do this since your animal was out. You can try putting pressure on the city officials--they are elected, and you can exercise your right to protest peacefully on the sidewalk outside city hall and the shelter--try to get local news media involved. The shelter and city officials will probably not want publicity about how they're refusing a payment plan for a disabled person who wants their animal back.

    We do not have an attorney-client relationship. I am not your lawyer. The statements I have made do not constitute legal advice. Any statements I have made are based upon the very limited facts you have presented, and under the premise that you will consult with a local attorney. This is not an attempt to solicit business. This disclaimer is in addition to any disclaimers that this website has made. I am only licensed in California.

  3. Unfortunately, this is one of the ways that they can afford to run their fancy buildings and staff. It is much cheaper to keep fences repaired and gates functioning than to retrieve your dog from the "shelter". Best of luck to you.

    I am an Attorney-at-Law, licensed to practice law only in the state of California. Unless we have both signed a formal retainer agreement, you are not my client, and my discussion of issues does not constitute legal advice. Opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of those who hold other opinions.

  4. Carefully inspect both local and state laws/ordinances. It is *possible* that an existing law or rule defines what they can (or can't) charge for.