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Ask Barrister Your Own Question
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 37855
Experience:  16 yrs practice, Civil, Criminal, Domestic, Realtor, Landlord 26 yrs
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A woman in Baltimore was going through a tough time and asked

Customer Question

A woman in Baltimore was going through a tough time and asked someone she knew if they could find her 8 year old yorkie poo a temporary home. Through odd connections, we wound up with the dog. The dog came to us in terrible shape and without an up to date rabies shot and other vaccines. We have spent close to $2000 on the dog, Armani, in the 4 months we have had her. She is now a happy healthy dog. The owner still has not asked for the dog back and we are now unwilling to return her. How much time needs to pass that we can claim ownership.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question..Was the dog actually gifted to the first person who received it from the original owner?.Or was the dog just turned over temporarily to the initial person to care for it temporarily?.How did you end up receiving the dog?..thanksBarrister
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The dog was given to the owners friend , person A, with the directive, please find someone to take care of Armani temporarily till I get back on my feet. Person A knew Person B who knew my friend, person C. Person c posted on Facebook "is anyone willing to take care of a dog for awhile for person going through a tough time." I responded to my friend, person c that I was willing to take the dog. My friend told person B who immediately delivered the dog to our house. When we agreed to take the dog we had no idea she would be so ill and weak.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Ok, then what has happened here is that the owner of the dog has never surrendered ownership of the dog to anyone. So the mere passage of time wouldn't serve to sever their ownership rights to the dog unless there was an affirmative action that made the dog abandoned. This could be the person stating that they no longer wanted the dog, or if the legal bailment that was created was terminated and the owner didn't reclaim the dog..So here, you could roll the dice and terminate the bailment and see if she reclaimed the dog. What the person has done by leaving their property with someone else is create a "voluntary bailment" with you being the eventual bailee. A voluntary bailment is when one party, the bailor, leaves personal property in the possession of the bailee with permission or consent. The bailor can return and take possession of the property at any time before the bailee terminates the bailment and the property is considered abandoned. A bailee can terminate a voluntary bailment by giving notice to the bailor that they need to come get the property or it will be considered abandoned and disposed of..In order to legally terminate the bailment, you have to give written notice to the bailor at their last known address. I would send it certified mail as well as first class mail in case they have a forwarding address with the post office. State that you are terminating the bailment and the bailor has 7 days to come get the dog or you will consider it abandoned and retain ownership of it. On day 8 if she doesn't contact you to get the dog, you can keep it as abandoned..That is the legal way to go about it.. .The other way is to just ignore any demands for its return and force her to file a civil suit against you for conversion and see if a judge orders you to return it after so long....thanksBarrister
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
In order to get the dog back, doesn't she owe us the $2000 we spent taking care of her plus all food?
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
No, not unless there was some explicit agreement for her to reimburse whoever the bailee was for taking care of the dog. This is a situation where you voluntarily agreed to take on the burden of caring for someone else's dog so without an agreement in place stating she would reimburse you, then you legally made a gratuitous gift of that care and food to her...thanksBarrister
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for your counsel. This is such a tough situation. We don't want to give her back to a situation where she was in such terrible shape.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
You are very welcome and I am sorry that the news isn't better. But if the person is financially strapped, it may be very unlikely that they ever take legal action to try and recover the dog....thanksBarrister