Can temporary boarding become permanent for security reasons?


I received this wonderful dog from someone who needed temporary boarding while she completed a court ordered rehabilitation program. I was told she would stay with us for 3-4 months. And I agreed to return his quota on the condition that the original owner demonstrates sobriety and stability. When the dog was first brought into my care, I noticed that she was physically healthy but extremely anxious and traumatized. The former guard drugged her daily with a tranquilizer that was not prescribed for her. It has now been over ten months, no communication from the original owner. The dog is doing wonderfully, happy, well adjusted and feels safe. Yesterday I was informed that the original owner wanted the dog back now. I have also since learned that the court initially ordered rehab due to a violent incident. Can I refuse to return the dog citing security and stability concerns and a violation of the original agreement? Given that I haven’t heard from them for months after the terms of the original agreement, could this be considered an abandonment of ownership? They live in another county if that affects anything.


As the expression goes: “No good deed goes unpunished”. Although the law is clear when an animal boarded with an Illinois veterinarian can be considered abandoned, it is not as clear when an animal will be considered abandoned when boarded elsewhere. Boarding schools and the people who agree to board them should have contracts that address this issue.

In certain circumstances, an animal left in boarding and not collected within the required time frame may be considered abandoned. This would be decided by a court if a lawsuit were filed. People who believe their pet is being wrongfully detained can also contact the police, although the police do not generally become involved in animal custody disputes.

There is another expression: “Possession is nine-tenths of the law.” Although this is not always true, it means that the person who owns the property is often in a better position, at least initially, than the person who does not own it. Indeed, the person who does not own one often has the burden of suing to try to get the animal back (and many more people threaten to sue than actually sue). Additionally, just because a person files a suit does not mean they will win the case. If boarding is invoked, the court may consider whether boarding fees were paid and whether the animal stayed much longer than expected.

I hope that you and the person who boarded the dog can amicably work out a custody/visitation agreement that is in the best interest of the dog.

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