Dear Dr. Jim
I have a terrible problem. It involves my dog, my lawyer, and a cockeyed judge. The lawyer must not be too good either.
So I see you are an attorney, or at least have a law degree. Perhaps you can tell me what to do.
My dog, Spoofy, is a lovely white Pekingese (pictures) but she ran away a few of months ago while we were in the park. I put ads in the papers, nailed signs on trees (got a ticket for doing that, cost me fifty bucks) and would sit in the park every day and call Spoofy.
One day, I hear Spoofy answering me with a sorrowful bark that only Spoofy can muster. Sure enough it was Spoofy with a little old lady in tow on a purple leash. Spoofy wanted to come over to me so bad, but the little old lady wouldn't let her.
I told her politely that this was my lost dog, Spoofy. The lady said "No way. This is Buffy, she has been my dog for ages, I bought her." Well, that was a lie, and she knew it. But she wouldn't let me have Spoofy. We actually ended up yelling at each other.
Now, to make a long story short, I found who she was and sued her in Small Claims Court to get little Spoofy back. My lawyer said I didn't need a lawyer in that court, but could I prove Spoofy was my dog? Well sure, she had this scar where she got hit by a car six years ago.
The court decided it was Spoofy, but said it was powerless to make this little old lady give her back. But not to mind, the law was firm in this area, and to my benefit.
Poop! My benefit was $125 as the value of a Pekingese nine years old. And the cockeyed judge made her pay me. I wasn't about to take that money, told them where to put it, and said I would appeal.
Poop again! My crazy and ill informed lawyer said I couldn't get the dog back but that I should have taken the money as that was the best I could get.
A very disturbed Spoofy Mama in Bean Town
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Dear Spoofy Mama
This is indeed a misfortunate situation. It is even worse that you can't get your little Spoofy back.
Here is the legal background from where-in-after the judge got his decision. If Spoofy had been stolen, for certain you could have had Spoofy back. And if the thief had hocked her, the pawn shop would have to give her back to you. Spoofy is (was) yours.
However, this is not the case. I talked with the judge and with your lawyer. They both agree
Run away dogs become the property of a person who bought them from their finder. You could have gotten her back from the finder. The generally accepted rule, "finders, keepers, losers weepers" only applies if the true owner can not be found.
However, if a person in good faith buys
Think of it this way. If you buy something from someone, you want to believe it is yours. You paid good money for it. But you say, I am the owner, Spoofy is mine.
No more in the eyes of the law. There are two innocent parties here, you and the LOL (little old lady). Which is the MORE INNOCENT? You, who couldn't control your dog and let her run away, or the LOL who paid good money thinking she was honestly getting a nice dog lawfully?
Obviously, the LOL. I am sorry Spoofy Mama, but your lawyer and the judge are correct here.
A couple of things you might do. First would to see if a local TV reporter would put it on the news about what a bum deal you got and how much you love poor little Spoofy. Maybe public pressure will make the finder pay the LOL for a new dog and buy Spoofy back for you. If this had been a dog kennel for sure they wouldn't want this bad publicity.
Another idea. Make friends with the LOL. Ask her to forgive you for hollering at her. Tell her how much you really love little Spoofy and could you visit her now and then? At least you will get to see her. And since you didn't take the money, perhaps at some time the LOL will feel sorry for you and let Spoofy come back to you.
I hope this helps a little bit.
So, keep on keep'n on, and till then,
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