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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Background story:

Coworker = Jill
Coworker2 = Jack

Jill saved a 9 month old neglected dog from her friend's house. Jill said she can't keep the dog so she gave her to Jack, who gave her to me because he couldn't handle three puppy's energy level with three dogs already.

Jill texted me and said Jack had no right to give the dog away, so I gave her back to Jack and then to Jill.

Two weeks later, Jill told Jack she can't keep the dog and supposedly he can give the dog to me. Apparently Jill thought I was going to sell it breed her.

Anyway, I now have the puppy and she's been with me for a week. I need to put her on insurance to schedule vet visits, microchip her, and get her fixed.

Jack and I asked Jill if she can write something that says, " I'm giving the dog to Jill." But Jill has been unresponsive. Jack does have a voicemail that said, " I can't keep this dog."

Question:
Is this dog legally mine now? I already invested a good amount of money on her, but I'll be furtive in the event Jill says I stole the puppy or something. Jill and I aren't that close.

Sorry for the long story!
 

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Umm, you say a 9-year-old dog and then talk about a puppy. So which is it?

Anyway, I'd get something from Jack saying Jill gave him permission to give the dog to you and if possible a copy of that voice mail to him. At that point if Jill gave me problems I'd tell her to pound sand.
 

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Jill doesn't have a leg to stand on. Unless she had simply asked Jack to "keep the puppy while she found a home for it", she gave Jack the puppy with no signed or verbal contract listing limitations.

Therefore what Jack chooses to do with the puppy is his choice.

Once Jack gave you the puppy with no signed or verbal contract listing limitations, he has no say over the puppy's future.

This is why breeders and rescues state explicitly in their contracts that " the buyer/adopter will return the dog if they are unable to care for it for any reason".

Now, the original owner may have a claim if Jill obtained the puppy through questionable means. If she took the puppy without their agreement, then her ownership of the dog is void, which makes Jack's ownership void, which makes your ownership void.
 

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Oh, add her to your insurance, etc quickly. That establishes documentation of your ownership. Jill, and Jack, likely have no such documentation. So if Jill does try to go after you, you have even more legitimacy.
 

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If nothing else, get a bill of sale from Jack, that gives as complete a description of the puppy as possible, and clearly states that he has permission from Jill to transfer the dog to you. Both of you sign a copy, and both of you get a copy.
 

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In my not-a-lawyer opinion, I would treat it as a found dog situation. You don't have paperwork to back up the "sourcing" of the dog from the original owner nor a chain of title so to speak.

If you have not checked for a microchip, have the dog scanned. Follow your city or county rules for reporting found dogs (many have a 7-10 public posting period or similar). That gives original owner chance to reclaim if legally allowed. Yes, possibly the dog was neglected but that is not a legal excuse to remove the dog as a private person.

After that, establish all the documents you can for ownership. Microchip and register in your name, get a vet relationship set up, get vaccines and heartworm meds up to date.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks. I edited it to 9 months. I think if it comes down to it, having the pup registered me as the owner in the microchip kinda solidifies I'm the owner. Plus I saved video footage of Jack giving her to me.

Edit: supposedly the puppy is AKC registered. I don't believe that because she was so skinny when I met her.
 

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Thanks. I edited it to 9 months. I think if it comes down to it, having the pup registered me as the owner in the microchip kinda solidifies I'm the owner. Plus I saved video footage of Jack giving her to me.

Edit: supposedly the puppy is AKC registered. I don't believe that because she was so skinny when I met her.
Hmm... Being skinny doesn't mean she isn't registered. And until you can get her AKC paperwork in your name, she technically belongs to the person who's name is on it, unless they give you a bill of sale stating that her paperwork isn't going with her. IDK about her breeder, but my Poodle's breeder has all the pups microchipped before selling them, and the chip number is linked to their registration application.

If you can get her registration application, or her certificate if she's already individually registered, filled out with you as the new owner (you might need a subsequent transfer slip, as well) and sent in to the AKC, that would solidify your ownership.
 

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I'd have her scanned for an existing microchip, and unless she already has one, forget about the AKC bit. The poor dog has already passed through at least 3 hands to get to you. If she has no microchip and you have one inserted, no one else can prove ownership, and why would they want to with a dog all of them have dumped on someone else as if she didn't matter.

If she does have a chip and it's registered and there's current contact info, then you are obliged to contact those people. Every one of my purebreds has the breeder as the secondary contact in the chip registration. It protects the dog against just this kind of thing, but most breeders would be happy if someone they sold a dog to turned out to be a jerk and the dog ended up with someone willing to keep and care for her. That's what they want for their puppies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You have a point there. I think she was from a puppy mill but Jill just said she's AKC.. also Jill says the breeder asked for additional money in order to have registration papers furnished, which Jill's friend opted not to

So... I'll see if I can get her scanned and contact the breeder if a microchip exists. Thanks!
 

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AKC registration does not rule out a puppy mill dog.
 

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Just got back from the vet.. no microchip detected.
Sounds like you've got yourself a dog.

Years ago, my grandmother died and my older sibling moved into her condo which included the cat. My sibling got a roommate. After several months, the roommate moved out. And took the cat with her. My sibling was infuriated and actually called the police. They explained that she needed to show proof that the cat was hers. Pre-chip days, that meant having photos of the cat. Even a vet record was not seen as proof because it was pre-computers and they didn't attach a photo to the record.
 

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When you say that Jill “rescued” the puppy from her friend’s house, did her friend actually give her the puppy? Because I’ve seen a lot of people post about dogs that they want to “rescue” from what they think is a bad home and for some reason they think they can just take the dog. Personally, I would be wondering if she ever obtained the puppy legally in the first place.
 

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Dog ownership doesn't have much of a legal process unless someone takes you to court, claiming you stole their dog or something. It seems unlikely that will happen, especially since taking someone to court is expensive.

Right now, if someone called the police and claimed you stole it, it might be a bit of a mess. Here are some tips to make it NOT a mess, and have more proof that the dog is indeed yours now:

1. Microchip. Does the dog currently have one? Get that checked, then find out how to transfer the microchip contact number to your name and information. If the dog is not yet chipped, do it now. It's not too expensive, and really important to have anyway in case your dog ever gets lost. I imagine if anyone ever claimed you stole the dog from them, that would put law enforcement strongly in YOUR favor.

2. I live in NYC, so don't know how common this is, but the city has a way to register your dog. You pay something like $15 once per year to renew the registration. I don't really keep up with it, but if the dog is registered in your city with you as the owner, that would give anyone claiming you stole it even less of a leg to stand on.

3. Bring the dog to a veterinarian practice. Get an annual check-up and vaccines. Vets have you register your pet as a patient, much like your doctor has you on file. As part of that record, it will list you as the owner, along with your address, phone number, everything. The dog will have your last name.

So, now let's say this person called the police or tried to take you to court to accuse you of stealing the dog. At this point, you could easily tell the story -- that this person gave the dog to a friend, both said they could not care for it, so you took it. They took it back once, gave it back again (you have texts to show for it), now it's yours. You can now ALSO show that you are a responsible dog owner, who has paid to microchip it, register it with the city, made sure it was up-to-date on its vaccines and annual check-ups. Meanwhile, the previous people who had it did not do any of those things. Now regardless of what anyone accuses you of, the accusers come off as unhinged and unreliable, while you appear as a serious, caring, responsible pet owner. Who (police, law enforcement, a judge) at that point wouldn't decide that the dog is clearly better off with you?
 

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It should be noted that "suing" someone is different than being charged with a crime. A civil court proceeding has different requirements than a criminal court proceeding.
 
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