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Dog seized by original owner

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What is the name of your state? Pennsylvania, Allegheny County

A breeder gave our daughter a female dog within two months after it had been spayed, at no charge. There was no contract. The dog, while loved dearly by our daughter, couldn't keep up with her very active lifestyle and she was concerned the dog wouldn't be happy with her, but didn't want to give it back to the breeder who got rid of her. We loved the dog just as much so we took her in and it's been great. Ten months later, after our girl (the dog) got a cancer diagnosis, our daughter let the breeder know out of courtesy. The breeder told my daughter to have us call her, but we were distraught with her diagnosis and hadn't yet even talked to the oncologist about her prognosis or treatment plan. The breeder kept demanding our daughter get us to call and when my daughter gave her our number, we received an aggressive call that we had to call her within 24 hours or she would take this "to the next level." We didn't get the message in time and 24 hours later, another message included threats of police action and a law suit since she had all the paperwork and the dog "was hers." Long story short, she got an ex parte writ of seizure and is suing all of us for replevin and suing my daughter separately for $35,000. At the motion hearing to defend the writ, she could produce no contract (since there wasn't one) but she had a much better lawyer than we did. She still has our girl and we now await the hearing to determine who she truly belongs to. We are also in the process of finding new representation. We live in PA. Any advice you can give?
 
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quincy

Senior Member
What is the name of your state? Pennsylvania, Allegheny County

A breeder gave our daughter a female dog within two months after it had been spayed, at no charge. There was no contract. The dog, while loved dearly by our daughter, couldn't keep up with her very active lifestyle and she was concerned the dog wouldn't be happy with her, but didn't want to give it back to the breeder who got rid of her. We loved the dog just as much so we took her in and it's been great. Ten months later, after our girl got a cancer diagnosis, our daughter let the breeder know out of courtesy. The breeder told my daughter to have us call her, but we were distraught with her diagnosis and hadn't yet even talked to the oncologist about her prognosis or treatment plan. The breeder kept demanding our daughter get us to call and when my daughter gave her our number, we received an aggressive call that we had to call her within 24 hours or she would take this "to the next level." We didn't get the message in time and 24 hours later, another message included threats of police action and a law suit since she had all the paperwork and the dog "was hers." Long story short, she got an ex parte writ of seizure and is suing all of us for replevin and suing my daughter separately for $35,000. At the motion hearing to defend the writ, she could produce no contract (since there wasn't one) but she had a much better lawyer than we did. She still has our girl and we now await the hearing to determine who she truly belongs to. We are also in the process of finding new representation. We live in PA. Any advice you can give?
My advice is to get an aggressive attorney of your own to deal with the breeder and the breeder's ridiculous legal action ... and then spend your time concentrating on your daughter's health.

Good luck.
 
My apologies, Quincy. It was the dog (who I also consider our girl) that was diagnosed with a malignant mammary tumor, not our daughter, but thank you for your concern. We are actively researching and looking for an excellent attorney, which has proven difficult so far. We thought the one we initially hired would be good since the named partner's wife has a dog kenneling business. Let's just say he was not good, not even informing us that we may have had the right to post a counterbond after the ex parte writ of seizure was served in order to get our dog back while awaiting the final outcome of the lawsuit. It's hearbreaking.
 

quincy

Senior Member
My apologies, Quincy. It was the dog (who I also consider our girl) that was diagnosed with a malignant mammary tumor, not our daughter, but thank you for your concern. We are actively researching and looking for an excellent attorney, which has proven difficult so far. We thought the one we initially hired would be good since the named partner's wife has a dog kenneling business. Let's just say he was not good, not even informing us that we may have had the right to post a counterbond after the ex parte writ of seizure was served in order to get our dog back while awaiting the final outcome of the lawsuit. It's hearbreaking.
The edit in your original post should clarify for others that it is your dog who has cancer. Although I am sorry your dog has a malignancy, I am really happy you were not speaking of your daughter.

Why did the breeder give your daughter the dog in the first place? Why did the breeder want the dog returned?

I am not understanding where the $35,000 is coming from.
 

not2cleverRed

Obvious Observer
The edit in your original post should clarify for others that it is your dog who has cancer. Although I am sorry your dog has a malignancy, I am really happy you were not speaking of your daughter.

Why did the breeder give your daughter the dog in the first place? Why did the breeder want the dog returned?

I am not understanding where the $35,000 is coming from.
Sometimes breeders demand that if the person the give/sell the dog to no longer wishes to keep the dog, that it be returned.

The breeder believes that they have such a contract with the daughter, albeit oral. So the issue is that the daughter gave her dog to her parents, rather than return it to the breeder.

I understand that there are reasons for such policies - ensuring that the animal has a good home, or is not being breed with an inferior match (not an issue here), as that might reflect poorly on the breeder's reputation. I guess.

I have no idea where the breeder came up with $35,000 from. Certainly a sick dog isn't worth that much. I could see the vet bills getting that high - but if the breeder had let the dog stay with OP, she would not be on the hook for the vet bills.
 
Quincy: My daughter bought a puppy that belonged to the dog in question a few years back. Each time my daughter would go to the breeder's farm to let her pup play with the other dogs (and visit with any new puppies that were there), she would always comment how much she loved all the dogs and would take them home in a hot minute. The breeder messaged her out of the blue after several months of no contact asking if she wanted to have first option to try the dog out as a pet, as she had been spayed recently. So I guess the answer to your one question is: because the breeder no longer wanted her since she could no longer breed and thought of my daughter based on her expressed interest.

Your second question is a bit harder to answer, as we cannot figure out why this has escalated to this point. If there had been a contract, oral or written, we simply would have went to the breeder ourselves (I had met her several times) and asked that the care of the dog be transferred over to us. I doubt we would have been denied. But since there was never any restrictions put on our daughter having the dog, and the breeder never contacted her again about the dog, she believed the dog to be hers completely. By giving her to us, she was keeping the dog in the family and visits every weekend.

Nothing seemed wrong, even after my daughter told the breeder that she had given the dog to us until a full three days afterwards. By that time, the closest we can figure is that she was really, really mad that my husband and I didn't call her back. Calling the breeder just wasn't a priority to us. We were more concerned about our dog's treatment. My husband did eventually call her, but by that time, she was claiming that we stole her dog, that my daughter was only fostering the dog, that she had no right to give the dog to us, and she had signed a contract agreeing to that. We asked our daughter about it and she said there was never anything discussed (apparently all discussions about getting the dog occurred over FB and she showed us all of the messages.) None of them mentioned anything about her being a foster parent or that the breeder wanted to retain ownership. My daughter just thought she was getting the mother of her pup that she had been loving on for years since getting her pup. We even questioned our grandson about it who was at the breeder's farm to pick up the dog (16 years old, honor roll, athlete, all-around good kid) and he said the breeder didn't talk about fostering or keeping ownership. He also said that our daughter didn't sign anything. Even if our daughter did, we still would've reached out to the breeder to formally adopt/foster/whatever the breeder wanted to call it...we love the dog that much and caring for her through her cancer is a gift we would gladly give to her for bringing such joy into our lives. But by that time, I guess it was too late. The breeder only gave our daughter the dog's health records, nothing else. The breeder, since she still had a lot of miscellaneous paperwork our girl (registration, genetic test results, microchip, vet records, etc.) she used those to start legal proceedings.

Red: I completely understand having a contract for an intact dog that could still be viably bred. Maybe because the dog was older and spayed is the reason there wasn't a contract. I don't know.

Unfortunately, this is escalating even further and we're hoping to get a recommendation of a lawyer that specializes in this type of case. I have reached out to: Duquesne University and WVU Law Schools, as they both teach courses on animal law, the US Humane Society, Animal Friends Rescue Group, lawyers in other states that might know someone who is licensed here in PA, and, of course, Google. We have been unsuccessful in finding someone with this expertise in the area. Any leads would be appreciated. Thank you all for your advice.
 

quincy

Senior Member
Quincy: My daughter bought a puppy that belonged to the dog in question a few years back. Each time my daughter would go to the breeder's farm to let her pup play with the other dogs (and visit with any new puppies that were there), she would always comment how much she loved all the dogs and would take them home in a hot minute. The breeder messaged her out of the blue after several months of no contact asking if she wanted to have first option to try the dog out as a pet, as she had been spayed recently. So I guess the answer to your one question is: because the breeder no longer wanted her since she could no longer breed and thought of my daughter based on her expressed interest.

Your second question is a bit harder to answer, as we cannot figure out why this has escalated to this point. If there had been a contract, oral or written, we simply would have went to the breeder ourselves (I had met her several times) and asked that the care of the dog be transferred over to us. I doubt we would have been denied. But since there was never any restrictions put on our daughter having the dog, and the breeder never contacted her again about the dog, she believed the dog to be hers completely. By giving her to us, she was keeping the dog in the family and visits every weekend.

Nothing seemed wrong, even after my daughter told the breeder that she had given the dog to us until a full three days afterwards. By that time, the closest we can figure is that she was really, really mad that my husband and I didn't call her back. Calling the breeder just wasn't a priority to us. We were more concerned about our dog's treatment. My husband did eventually call her, but by that time, she was claiming that we stole her dog, that my daughter was only fostering the dog, that she had no right to give the dog to us, and she had signed a contract agreeing to that. We asked our daughter about it and she said there was never anything discussed (apparently all discussions about getting the dog occurred over FB and she showed us all of the messages.) None of them mentioned anything about her being a foster parent or that the breeder wanted to retain ownership. My daughter just thought she was getting the mother of her pup that she had been loving on for years since getting her pup. We even questioned our grandson about it who was at the breeder's farm to pick up the dog (16 years old, honor roll, athlete, all-around good kid) and he said the breeder didn't talk about fostering or keeping ownership. He also said that our daughter didn't sign anything. Even if our daughter did, we still would've reached out to the breeder to formally adopt/foster/whatever the breeder wanted to call it...we love the dog that much and caring for her through her cancer is a gift we would gladly give to her for bringing such joy into our lives. But by that time, I guess it was too late. The breeder only gave our daughter the dog's health records, nothing else. The breeder, since she still had a lot of miscellaneous paperwork our girl (registration, genetic test results, microchip, vet records, etc.) she used those to start legal proceedings.

Red: I completely understand having a contract for an intact dog that could still be viably bred. Maybe because the dog was older and spayed is the reason there wasn't a contract. I don't know.

Unfortunately, this is escalating even further and we're hoping to get a recommendation of a lawyer that specializes in this type of case. I have reached out to: Duquesne University and WVU Law Schools, as they both teach courses on animal law, the US Humane Society, Animal Friends Rescue Group, lawyers in other states that might know someone who is licensed here in PA, and, of course, Google. We have been unsuccessful in finding someone with this expertise in the area. Any leads would be appreciated. Thank you all for your advice.
We cannot provide referrals but following is a link to Michigan State University's College of Law, Animal Welfare Clinic.

https://www.law.msu.edu/clinics/animal.html
Although you have already contacted the organizations that I would have suggested you contact, and they have been unable to help, perhaps MSU can steer you in the direction where you can find assistance.

I recommend you ask those you contact about the enforceability of clauses in breeder contracts in Pennsylvania that require the receiver of a dog to return the dog to the breeder, whether these are written contracts or oral contracts.

If your daughter could be seen as fostering the dog rather than owning the dog, there is a chance you will not get your dog back from the breeder. But under no circumstance that I can envision offhand would your daughter be liable to the breeder for $35,000.

Good luck.
 

quincy

Senior Member
Thank you so very much. I will investigate this further. Take care and it is great that people are out there willing to lend a helping hand to strangers. :)
You're welcome. We appreciate the thanks, Spartacus96.

I hope this can all be resolved in your daughter's favor and that you will soon be reunited with your dog.

Good luck.
 
So sorry to hear about your situation and your dog's cancer issue. We currently have one of our rescue dogs going through chemo for multiple tumors and we seem to be making progress. There is hope. Starting treatment as soon as possible is important, so I hope a resolution will be found soon and your dog will be able to lead a long and happy life.
 
My bet is the breeder is afraid her reputation will be harmed if word gets out part of her breeding line is not genetically perfect. I'm not saying the dogs cancer is genetic but it still will reflect badly on that line. Getting the dog back allows the breeder to deal with the situation in her own best interest, such as denying the fact the dog developed cancer.

Since the OP has lost possession of the dog is there some legal recourse they can use to stop the breeder from putting the dog down?
 

justalayman

Senior Member
The breeder messaged her out of the blue after several months of no contact asking if she wanted to have first option to try the dog out as a pet, as she had been spayed recently
Well, breeders sell dogs as well as breeding them. Otherwise they would have thousands of dogs running around their kennel. . Often times the animals are sterilized if there is a reason the dog should not breed.

Since you have provided the statement the breeder asked whether your daughter wanted to try out the dog as a pet, I suggest there was no transfer of ownership. Rather there was a trial period after which the contract for sale of the dog would be considered.

Unless you can argue there was indeed an intent to transfer ownership without compensation, you will lose on regaining possession of the dog. I’m at a bit of a loss as to,the demand for $35,000. The only basis I can imagine for a claim of money would be regarding a purchase of the dog. Since it had been spayed there would be no breeding value and lost profits from loss of progeny to be concerned with. the stated demand is beyond my understanding as I don’t know any breeds that are so highly valued.
 

quincy

Senior Member
Well, breeders sell dogs as well as breeding them. Otherwise they would have thousands of dogs running around their kennel. . Often times the animals are sterilized if there is a reason the dog should not breed.

Since you have provided the statement the breeder asked whether your daughter wanted to try out the dog as a pet, I suggest there was no transfer of ownership. Rather there was a trial period after which the contract for sale of the dog would be considered.

Unless you can argue there was indeed an intent to transfer ownership without compensation, you will lose on regaining possession of the dog. I’m at a bit of a loss as to,the demand for $35,000. The only basis I can imagine for a claim of money would be regarding a purchase of the dog. Since it had been spayed there would be no breeding value and lost profits from loss of progeny to be concerned with. the stated demand is beyond my understanding as I don’t know any breeds that are so highly valued.
The $35,000 for an old dog with cancer seems excessive to the point of absurdity.
 

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