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  • Kristina Bergsten

What to do when Someone Refuses to return your Animal!

I hear it all the time: my parents won't give me back my dog after I moved out; my ex stole my dog; my roommate won't give me back my dog; my dogsitter won't give me back my dog; etc. The list goes on and on! If I didn't do this every day for a living, I would be shocked at how common dog theft is - and how police consider it a civil matter and will not help you retrieve your pup!


The main way to get your dog back in Colorado is to file a Replevin lawsuit. There are a few other causes of action that I, as an animal lawyer, like to add to a complaint - but Replevin is the main one and is the easiest to navigate if you're going to try to do it by yourself. I would not recommend taking any legal action on your own, but times are tough these days, so I can understand the desire to do so.


Replevin is an ancient property doctrine. It comes from feudal society when there weren't really very many written laws besides the 10 Commandments. "Thou Shalt Not Steal" didn't really cover what would happen when one farmer's sheep would wander onto another farmer's land. And so, Replevin was born!


It is a common law doctrine that means that you have a superior claim of title to someone else. It is a property law and, unfortunately, animals are still considered property in Colorado, which is why you have to use this common law doctrine. You can have superior title by showing things like, your name only on a purchase agreement, your name on registration and licensing records, microchip records, and vet records. Money and care only come into the presentation if all other records are equal (i.e., both names on all the paperwork).


These are difficult cases to litigate, but Replevin can get you in front of a judge in as little as 2 weeks, so it is favored by many plaintiffs.


If you would like help getting your dog back, give our Denver animal lawyers a call today at 303-623-4000 to schedule a free consultation.

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