Hello\n\nMy name is Cindy Martinez.\nI gave up my dog 1 week ago and realized that I made a huge mistake. I cry for him every night and can\'t bear to be without him. I gave it to a friend of a friend and want to ask them to give him back. Do I have any legal rights to do this? The dog is still registered to me and no money was involved in me giving it to them. Also, no formal agreement was written in regards to me giving him to them.\nPlease help!!!\n\nSincerely,\nCindy
1 Answer from Attorneys
Dear Ms. Martinez:
You have presented a painful and difficult story. I feel for you.
As often happens with this kind of question, more information is necessary to answer it. Additionally, posting that information in a public forum--where you do not have the legal protection of attorney-client privilege and confidentiality--seems inadvisable here. I will give you a necessarily very general answer and recommend that you seek to resolve this matter immediately; I believe time is of the essence in this case.
If the other party gave you no money--and nothing else of value (personal property, promises to perform some action, forgiveness of debt, and so forth, to cite just a few examples), then the transfer of your dog to that person would probably not be considered a sale.
However, your giving your dog to the other person *might* be considered a gift under the law. With the facts you have posted here, I can't give you a clear answer about that. Much depends on the circumstances under which you gave the dog to the other person, whether you dealt directly with them or through your friend, and all the communications you had with the person who now has the dog, and your friend, about your fog.
You *might* have enforceable legal rights to get your dog back, but it's not clear if you do, and any lawyer would need more facts to determine your rights. However, you can certainly ask for your dog back and get him back that way. If you explain the situation to the other party and how deeply it has affected you, they might be willing to return the dog to you. However, you will need to act very quickly so they don't get a chance to bond with your dog, because then it will become a very emotional issue, in addition to a legal one, and be considerably harder to resolve.
I am not in a position personally to represent you in this case, but if the other person does not want to give your dog back, it might be worth exploring mediation with them. The Center for Conflict Resolution in Chicago offers free mediation services. Here is their Web site with more information about their organization.
If you cannot resolve this matter informally, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible, especially one who practices in the area of animal law.
An additional possibility would be to buy the dog back from the other party. That could get tricky, and I recommend you work with a lawyer so that the other party does not attempt to demand unreasonably large sums of money from you, thus exploiting the emotional pain you are experiencing now.
Again, because of the emotional component of this situation, I urge you to act quickly on it, for your own well-being, the well-being of your dog, and to put yourself in the best possible negotiating position.