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Dog give away

Discussion in 'Small Claims & Municipal Court' started by Cowbell, Nov 24, 2020.

  1. Cowbell

    Cowbell Law Topic Starter New Member

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    This whole situation has been stressful for my wife and her brother.

    My mother-in-law lives alone, is widowed, and has a dog that she purchased approximately 4 years ago. She has not been the very friendly as of the last 18-24 months. Phone calls are generally met with rudeness and she doesn't even ask about her grandkids any longer. At the beginning of the summer, her son went to check up on her because after months of not wanting visitors, he decided to drop by. He was met with a house that was a complete disaster. Old food in the kitchen, mold, dog poop everywhere, peed on blankets, dirty laundry, etc. She has never been one to keep a dirty house, but something had obviously changed. My wife and her brother took her to doctors to have her checked out (including the ER the day we arrived for cleanup due to low blood sugar and concern for her weight loss). The doctors put her on new meds for her diabetes (which she was not taking) and some other meds for depression. At this point, we cleaned up the best we could and checked back regularly. She was given tests to see if she had dementia. She had a brain scan as well. No issues.

    In September, we were called late in the evening from a hospital. She had fallen at a gas station and had broken both shoulders. After a few days in the hospital, she was sent to a nursing home/rehab facility. During this time, she also signed a document for my wife and her brother to be powers of attorney for health and financial. She was difficult and not feeding herself while there, and we were told she may need to stay at an assisted care facility for good. While she was in there, her dog was taken by her son for several days. The dog defecated and urinated all over his house. Since he works full-time and already has a dog, this wasn't the ideal situation. We all talked and thought giving the dog away to an adoption facility would be in the best interest of the dog and her mother. The dog had sores on its paws from walking in its own urine, dirty matted fur, and just a sad dog all around. When he took the dog to the vet, the vet was concerned that the dog was being treated poorly. This helped drive the decision on donating the dog to an adoption facility. He had signed something stating he would not divulge where the dog was sent, which seemed like a reasonable request by the adoption agency.

    During the several weeks she was in the assisted care facility, we realized she was a couple months behind on all her bills. Home insurance, mortgage, car insurance, etc. Since my wife had power of attorney, she was able to pay the bills and monitor everything so she had a home to return to if needed. Additionally, there was a lot of time spent at the house cleaning everything up again, hiring a cleaning service, and going through piles of trash in the basement to keep any leaks from causing mold issues.

    She ended up being released about 5 weeks ago. Prior to her release she was told of the dog being sent to an adoption facility. Her initial reaction didn't seem to be one of anger, which to us meant she understood the situation she was in. Upon home arrival, she looked around for the dog, but she said nothing to my wife about the dog being gone. She was to have home rehabilitation for her shoulders and a service that was to come in and clean up and help her with bathing, laundry, etc.
    She basically declined the help. As far as I know now, she isn't doing any of those things. One of her friends had stopped by and this is when things started to get bad. My guess is that she told her that no one had a right to give away her animal.

    She began yelling at her son about giving the dog away and he had no right to do that. He told her the situation she was in and said that she couldn't take care of herself, let alone an animal. My wife and I told her the same thing. At this point, she doesn't seem to care. She has gotten an attorney, which we had a feeling was going to happen. We monitored casenet and it just happened to pop up in the last week. We do not know what she is suing for yet as her brother is still waiting for a notification.

    We spoke with her last night to try and figure out why she's doing this when she knows the situation at the time was dire, and still continues to be. We asked her if she understood that she was ruining her relationship with her family. Her only response was I want my dog back. I told her we cannot tell her where the dog was at and that she was in no condition to be taking care of an animal when she cannot take care of herself. She didn't care. Minutes later her friend called and started asking us questions about where the dog was at. At this point, it turned ugly and we ended up ending the phone call abruptly after my wife was told that she basically didn't care about her mother.

    Since we haven't yet received anything from the court on this case, is there a certain type of attorney we should consult? We tried an elder attorney we had spoken with about 6-7 weeks ago while she was in the rehab facility, but she didn't want to take the case. I guess I'm not sure what their mother can actually sue for since we made decisions based off the circumstances of this terrible and stressful situation.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thank you-
     
  2. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Go to the court and look at the file to see what the lawsuit is about.
     
    Cowbell likes this.
  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    You won't know until you see the file.

    Then come back to this thread and report.
     
  4. Cowbell

    Cowbell Law Topic Starter New Member

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    My wife's brother found an attorney that looked up the case and found out his mother wants 5k for damages and about 150 for dog supplies. Now if he provides the name of the place he sent the dog to, she will drop the whole thing. That leads us to think that this dog adopter person could sue us for providing the information to the attorney and her mother.
     
  5. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Here's my analysis of your dilemma.

    An elderly relative appeared to be ill or ailing.

    The elderly person is alleged to have been living in a rather unkempt home, soiled with dog feces and urine, and the elderly person appeared to also be of unsound mind.

    The elderly relative was taken to hospital, treated, and later returned to a hospital aftercare facility.

    Relatives of the senior citizen made efforts to clean up her home to make it safe for her homecoming.

    Another relative took the dog into his home, whereupon the dog commenced to defecating and urinating all over the "good Samaritan's" home, too.

    The "good Samaritan" had the dog treated by a vet, and sometime later the dog was placed into a pet adoption system that requires anonymity.

    Everything up until the dog was "adopted away" seems to have little, if any, legal significance.

    The dog adoption might be the undoing of the "good Samaritan".

    I don't see $5,000 worth of damages, but I do some legal value (insofar as a lawsuit is concerned) in giving away property that doesn't belong to the person giving said property away.

    It might behoove ALL of you to try and settle this "thing" amicably and rapidly.

    I suggest the lot of you discuss HOW the matter can be settled amicably, as this thing seems to be spiraling out of control.
     
    shadowbunny likes this.
  6. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    She's got a screw loose. Batshit crazy is the current term I believe. She picked $5000 because that's the small claims limit, right? There's no justification for that kind of money. Whoever has been named as defendant(s) should go to court and tell the same story you told here. I doubt that she'll win. (My 2 cents worth.)
     
  7. Cowbell

    Cowbell Law Topic Starter New Member

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    We have had "nice" discussions that have gone nowhere which is disheartening. All she says is, over and over, "I just want my dog back, tell me where it is at and I'll drop this".
     
  8. Cowbell

    Cowbell Law Topic Starter New Member

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    You are dead-on accurate. Heaven knows what she is paying an attorney for this. Instead of suing the gas station where she tripped and injured herself from things that were possibly left in the walkway at night (she swears she tripped on something), she's suing her kid instead. If I was personally the one being sued, I would definitely go over the events in court.
     
  9. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Attorneys are permitted in MO small claims court so she'll pay a lot more for the attorney's appearance. Lawyer fees are not recoverable. She could be spending thousands.

    You and your wife aren't named as defendants? If not, then you both would be wise to back away from the debacle.
     

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