Dogs are more than just our pets — they're family members. So, it can be devastating when a break-up happens, and your ex won't give them back. While the law may not see your dog as your property, you can take steps to get them back.
Communicate with your ex
It is important to discuss the situation calmly with your ex before starting any legal action. This can help prevent further misunderstandings. It will be easier if you can be respectful and willing to compromise.
By working together, you can reach a resolution that works for both of you. You can discuss topics like a visitation schedule and holiday swapping. If you can't come to a compromise, you can bring in a third party to mediate, or you can take legal action.
Know when you have a case
If you want to file a case for your taken dog, you must be able to show that the other party has caused you damage(s). This can be helped by having some form of documentation. This may include:
- Bill of sale or registration papers
- Microchip documentation
- Eyewitness testimony
- Surveillance footage
- Anything else that can show that the person in question took the dog without your permission
Without documentation, it can be challenging to prove that the dog is yours and that damages have occurred.
If you believe your dog has been legally stolen, you can file a police report. This will create a record of the incident and may be helpful if you need to take legal action.
If you believe that someone else is not taking proper care of the dog, you will need to be able to show that they have been neglecting the animal. This may include evidence of the dog not being well-fed, not being given proper medical care, or not getting exercise.
Send a demand letter
You can show your ex that you are serious by sending a demand letter. This letter explains the damages you are owed and describes the situation as you see it. The letter includes any specific information about the disagreement and a deadline for response. A good rule of thumb is to give the person 10-14 days to respond.
By sending a demand letter, you state your intention to take legal action if the problem is not resolved. This is often enough to get the other party to take you seriously and take action to resolve the issue.
File a Small Claim
Filing in small claims court can be easy, even without a lawyer. Your local small claims court handles cases for smaller amounts of money, usually $10,000 or less.
You can file your complaint in small claims court to start the lawsuit. The court will charge you a filing fee and process the document. Then they will set a hearing date, and you will be expected to be present. If the court rules in your favor, the other party will be ordered to pay you what you're owed.
The basic steps of suing someone in small claims court are simple:
- Fill out the court's paperwork
- File the case in court
- Pay court fees
- Serve court papers to the defendant
- Attend your hearing and explain the reason for suing the defendant.
Suing in small claims court can be helpful to get what you're owed. If you have any questions, contact your local small claims court before taking any legal action.