How can I legally claim an abandoned dog?


Question

There was a dog left at the local vet and has not been picked up. The client was called everyday for the last 2 weeks. The client also expressed that she did not want to pay the 2k bill and she also stated that she is moving. What are the steps that we would need to do to legally claim the dog w/o any repercussions. The vet has no clue how to handle this.

Answer

The law in Florida and in many other states address when an animal left for boarding may be deemed abandoned. Veterinarians should consult with their state licensing board and local attorney for further information. Florida’s law states:

§ 705.19. Abandonment of animals by owner; procedure for handling.

(1) Any animal placed in the custody of a licensed veterinarian or bona fide boarding kennel for treatment, boarding, or other care, which shall be abandoned by its owner or the owner’s agent for a period of more than 10 days after written notice is given to the owner or the owner’s agent at her or his last known address may be turned over to the custody of the nearest humane society or dog pound in the area for disposal as such custodian may deem proper.
(2) The giving of notice to the owner, or the agent of the owner, of such animal by the licensed veterinarian or kennel operator as provided in subsection (1) shall relieve the veterinarian or kennel operator and any custodian to whom such animal may be given of any further liability for disposal. Such procedure by a licensed veterinarian shall not constitute grounds for disciplinary procedure under chapter 474.
(3) For the purpose of this section, the term “abandonment” means to forsake entirely or to neglect or refuse to provide or perform the legal obligations for care and support of an animal by its owner or the owner’s agent. Such abandonment shall constitute the relinquishment of all rights and claim by the owner to such animal.

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