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hey yall, hoping that we can get some clarification on this matter ASAP!

my fiance and i live with his parents. back at the end of November, my MIL's mom (who suffers from alzheimers and vascular dementia) fell and broke her hip. after having the grandmother rushed to the hospital, her dog was brought to our place. my fiance and i stepped up and agreed to foster her until the grandmother was better. the grandmother was in the hospital for a few weeks and was then transferred over to a nursing home to continue her recovery. at this time, my MIL and FIL asked us if we wanted the dog because they didn't want to have a third dog or they would give her up for adoption. we told them we would love to take her. when cleaning the grandmother's house, my MIL found the dog's vet paperwork and brought it home for me to keep in my records. with that information, i changed the ownership on her microchip to have the dog registered to myself and my fiance, as well as registering her with the municipality.

fast forward to a few weeks after, they wanted to take the dog to see the grandmother in hopes that it would cheer her up and we said no - there were signs that the grandmother may have abused the dog and we didn't want her to be exposed to her abuser. at this point, my MIL and FIL advised us that they were 'just joking' about giving the dog up for adoption, but of course this wasn't a joke to us as we had taken this very seriously.

the grandmother has now been moved back to her home with a live in PSW/ family friend and the family has been advised by the physio therapist that it is not safe for her to have a dog. we had the grandmother, PSW and aunt over a few weeks ago and the grandmother demanded the dog back. we advised that it isn't safe for either of them and that she could continue to see the dog with us there.

we are currently in the process of moving from Ontario to Alberta which has caused quite a sh*t-fit with the family and they're threatening legal action if we take the dog.

now, because the grandmother is not capable of taking care of the dog, as well as being told by the PT that she cannot take care of a dog, does this not rightfully mean that the dog should not be returned to her care?
 

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You might get some opinions here - likely emotional ones - but this definitely sounds like a family/legal issue. Not a dog issue.

My own opinion, worth exactly what you pay for it, is that, morally, the dog should stay with you. Legally, I have no idea.
 

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I'm going to speak mostly from a US perspective, so some of this may not be accurate to Canada, but some things might apply. In general, my biggest bit of advice is to consult a lawyer if you feel your family might push this issue into the legal sphere, rather than just making life miserable for you for trying to do what (in my opinion) is best for the dog. Looking specifically for someone specializing in animal law is ideal, but any professional legal advice is going to be more accurate and helpful for your situation than what I can offer from my general understanding of how things work.

Since there wasn't any paperwork involved in the transfer of ownership to you (eg a sales/adoption contract or even receipt), your best evidence will likely be any proof that you've been financially caring for the animal and assuming responsibility. Veterinary records showing you're paying for vet care, registration in your town/providence/etc under your name, receipts or bills you've paid for services like training, a dog walker, doggy daycare, etc where it can be easily confirmed that you paid and that it was for the dog in question, and definitely that change in microchip data. Any one of these might not be strong enough to demonstrate that you've assumed ownership, but being able to put together a is a good start. Likewise any written communication - even if it's just text messages - regarding your in-laws asking you to foster and/or take her permanently, even though they're now recanting, would be good to collect and save somewhere where they can't accidentally be deleted.

Unfortunately, unless there's really compelling proof of physical abuse that was recorded by a vet soon after she came to your care, that's likely not going to be something that will have any kind of legal weight. Your grandmother-in-law's condition (as in, being advised that having a dog is dangerous for her or any evidence that she cannot properly care for a dog) is probably more compelling if it comes to that.

Dogs are legally property, which isn't actually a bad thing overall, but it can make situations like this difficult. Good luck, and I hope you find a solution that works in your favor.
 
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