What recourse do I have against someone who gave my pets away?

My significant other of 2 years offered to keep my 2, young Chihuahuas at his place while my son and I went on a week-long vacation. When I returned, he told me that while I was gone, he found the dogs to be a major inconvenience and he adopted them out. I am beyond upset. During the time I was away, we had an argument, and I highly suspect he did this out of spite. Nonetheless, I trust him to care for my pets for a specific time frame, and as far as I am concerned, he stole my dogs! What is my recourse. I might add that 1 puppy was my big Christmas present to my 5 year old son.

Asked on June 30, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Arizona


Anne Brady / Law Office of Anne Brady

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Your question at first points to an area of law known as bailment, in which one entrusts property to another temporarily for a particular purpose.  This would apply if you left your pet at a vet's office or groomer or even pet hotel.  However, it does not appear that you paid your significant other to watch your dogs, so bailment law, which is recognized in Arizona, would probably not apply.  Theft, in Arizona, includes the "driving away" of the personal property of another.  You probably could bring a civil claim against this individual for theft, but under Arizona law, your recovery is going to be limited to the fair maket value of the dogs.  You might be better off finding out whom he gave the dogs to and pleading with them to return the dogs to you.

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