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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 9032
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I really need help regarding a pet custody problem.

Customer Question

I really need help regarding a pet custody problem.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Law
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I was given a cat by my partner's parents, in 2009. For the first four years, I paid vet expenses and such. I have an housemate, whom in the past three years has contributed and paid for the vet, with my acknowledgement that it was just a sharing thing, just like we shared grocery, bills, etc. 2 years ago I decided that the cat should be chipped, but since at the time I was often visiting Italy (my ill father), I asked my housemate if it was ok to put her as a contact on the chip, in case something happened and I wasn't available. That was my understanding of the agreement. However, she has now just bought her own house and she is going to move this Saturday, and has informed me that she intends to take the cat with her, since she is the one registered on the chip. I never ever relinquished my ownership of the cat, in any way, and I am at loss for what to do.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

What is the value of the cat?

Why was the given to you by your partner’s parents rather than your partner or both of you?

Why did your partner, suddenly, 2 years ago decide to start paying something towards the vet bills?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
The cat has no breed value.The cat (Satin) was given to me by my partner's parents in 2009 - at the time my partner was not living with me. The cat (Satin) was not getting along with the other cat in their house, so they asked me to foster it for a while, then when they tried to bring it back to their house, the cats had another fight, so they decided to leave the cat (Satin) with me.The person that has paid some of the cat expenses is my housemate, not my partner. My housemate was already living with me in 2009. We have shared lodgings since the year 2002, first in England, and from 2009 in Scotland. We had always shared bills and expenses in a friendly way, supporting each other. A couple of years ago, I wasn't doing that well in finances so my housemate paid the vet bills. I decided that it was better for the cat's welfare that she should get chipped. Since at the time I was on a sort of alert due to my father's poor ill in Italy, I thought that it would have been better to have my house-mate's name as a contact, in case something happened and I was in Italy.I have never transferred ownership of the cat to anyone, and I was under the impression that chipping is not ownership. Now my housemate is moving to her own place, and she says that the cat is now hers. But it's not true.My partner, my partner's parents, a few friends can testify that the cat was given to me and has lived in my house since 2009. The fact that my friend has abused my trust is not of legal concern, I understand that.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

The name on the chip may or may not be the owner. In the same way that a motorcar V5 is not proof of ownership, the chip details are just contact details if the animal is found.

You are correct, the cat is not hers, the cat is yours because you never transferred ownership of the cat to her.

However if you go to the police, because she takes the cat, the police are not likely to get involved because of the issue with the chip details.

If she takes the cat, you can apply to court for an injunction (and as the court for court and legal costs) to make her return the cat to you.

If she simply takes the cat, by all means report it to the police as theft even though there are unlikely to do anything because of this chip issue.

Ultimately, if she takes the cat when you are not there, you are faced with making a court application.

My suggestion is to tell her that if she insists on taking the cat, you will make an emergency application to court to prevent her pending a hearing over ownership of the cat. You have plenty of witnesses who will attest to the Being yours and all she will have a few vets bills which he paid.

On the balance of probabilities, the judge would find the pet belongs to you based upon the facts you have given.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

Please rate the service positive. It doesn’t cost you anything but helps me greatly.

We can still exchange emails. Best wishes. FES.

F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 9032
Experience: I have been practising for 30 years.
F E Smith and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Hello, can you clarify this for me please?
I contacted two solicitors (I'm based in Scotland) and even if the Citizen Advice Bureau has advised to request an Interim Interdict (which I believe is emergency application you mention), they are both being uncooperative (one mentioned that it would cost too much to do that, but didn't specify how much even when asked). Can I just go to the court and ask there how to fill in this request?
Expert:  F E Smith replied 8 months ago.

You can go to court to get an injunction/interdict either to prevent her taking the cat or to make her return it but it would only be a temporary remedy pending a full hearing to decide ownership.

If the person taking the cat decides to defend the action it could easily cost £5000 or even more to the loser. That would just be legal costs of the losing party.

It’s likely that just the solicitors letter threatening the court application and substantial legal costs is likely to make her think twice about taking the cat.

That is what I would do at this stage.

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