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Ask Thomas Swartz Your Own Question
Thomas Swartz
Thomas Swartz, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3139
Experience:  Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
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When my exboyfriends and i were together we adopted a 2yr

Customer Question

When my exboyfriends and i were together we adopted a 2yr old female dog together. Soon after she became pregnant from my dog from a previous relationship. She had 4 puppies. One had passed away, one was adopted. There are 2 puppies remaining at his house. One was supposed to be his son and the other is supposed to be my unborn daughters. We broke up about a month ago and 2days later my ex has a new woman in his life and refuses to let me take my dog to where i am now living along with some other personal belongings of mine. Which i can cut my loses with. I just miss my little puppy. What steps should i take to get custody of my puppy and to regain my property. How much do you think it will cost including a lawyer. And how can i make sure i win this case. None of the dogs have papers or license or shots. And the one that is mine has a problem with his eye that was supposed to go to a vet shortly before the breakup but my ex blew the appointment off. Neither of us have any receipts for food or anything. It is basically a he said she said case. But where he has the mother and the other puppy. I feel it should b easy for me to get one. He claims his reasoning now is that he does not want to split the puppies up. He had told me before that he wants to sell the puppy. I am afraid he is saying he doesnt want to split them up just so he can sell him and then there will be nothing i can do.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Thomas Swartz replied 1 year ago.
Hello Nancy,Pets are considered personal property under Massachusetts law. This being the case, the question of who gets to keep a pet when a couple breaks up becomes a question of who had ownership of the pet before the breakup. In your situation, you adopted the mother together, so you had co-ownership of the mother. And the mother was impregnated by your dog. This being the case, I believe you have a strong case to claim ownership of at least half of the litter from the mother. In addition, it appears that you and your ex had entered into some type of agreement where one of the puppies would be his, and the other would be yours. Such an agreement would be weighed heavily by a court in determining ownership of the puppies. Now how do you go about actually getting custody of the puppy? The best way to start is to have a local attorney write a letter to your ex demanding he relinquish ownership of the puppy to you based on the above. I would think that a lawyer may charge around $100 to write such a letter. The letter of course should warn that if he does not give up ownership of the puppy, a civil action will be commenced against him.If your ex does not respond, then you would have to commence a civil lawsuit to get ownership and custody of the puppy. To commence and pursue such an action might cost a couple thousand dollars for filing fees, and a lawyers time.In addition, to the above with respect to claiming ownership, additional facts that you can bring up the fact that your ex neglected medical care for the puppy and that the puppy has sentimental value to you. Of course any proof that you have that your ex did neglect the puppy, or was willing to sell the puppy to a stranger will behelpful to your case.As you mentioned, these situations do become somewhat of a he said/she said situation. So the more proof you can marshal will help.Good luck.Thomas