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Can a person legally take another persons pet without cause or reason and hold said animal from the owner?

Staunton, VA |

The drunk neighbor tried stealing my cat Smokey.

She stole him while I was gone then when I was searching for him he managed to get free and out of their apartment.

When he tried to run she grabbed him and tried hiding him in our downstairs neighbors house..
I had to bang on their door and threaten to call the cops, they let him out when they thought I was going to call the cops.
These people that tried taking him are the same who cut off his tail and abused their other two cats, one is a little older and one is a helpless kitten.

Is it right for them to hold my animal from me? I am a good caretaker for my cat, he is well fed and cared for lovingly. Do they have the right to do that, they have taken him before and last time he came back hurt when their cat attacked him. Is there anything I can do to stop them?

Just to let anyone know I did not let the cat out, and did not know he was out until I had gotten a message from my mother. They have also tried taking the cat off of our porch and have grabbed his leash from me without permission as i had been walking him.

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Attorney answers 4

Best Answer

You also have a right of replevin to seek the return of personal property which animals are considered. Call animal control or law enforcement if they get your cat again, but don't let it run around outside.

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Call the cops. That is your best option. Also, take steps not to let your cat out unsupervised, if these people are dangerous to animals as you claim.

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.

Keith G Langer

Keith G Langer


A call to animal control regarding the abuse of the cats seems to be in order.


Call police


In Virginia companion animals like Smokey are considered the owneer's personal property. Your neighbors can no more take Smokey and keep him from you than they could any other item of your personal property. I agree with the others who answered that next time you should call the police. If your neighbors know that you are serious about their taking Smokey, they will probably stop this bizarre conduct.

This answer is a general response to your rather broad quetion and is not meant to be formal legal advice. For a more specific answer to your question, you need to discuss all the specific facts of the case with your attorney.

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