Local News

Animal ownership contract in question

Legalities of animal contracts

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Rescues take animals in, rehabilitate them and hopefully, they will be adopted out.

When that adoption happens, most rescues draft a contract for the new owners.

"Proper veterinary care guidelines are to be used for vaccinations...injury protocol. The contract goes with the horse for the life of the horse," said Pat Miller, Ruby Ranch Horse Rescue board member.

The contract can state that the rescue could take back the animals if they're found to be in unsatisfactory condition.

"The legal basis is the contract, the contract says you can own this piece of property but there are conditions toward that ownership," Miller said.

But in this case Ruby Ranch Rescue board member Pat Miller says she didn't get to enforce that, which has more than just the board members confused.

"Very often now, rescues are putting into their contracts very specific points they have to abide by. If they don't abide by them," said Juliet Piccone, an animal contract attorney.

Animal care contracts are typically drafted by national rescue organizations and not just for horses, any animal rescue is advised to use them.

"Ultimately these types of contracts are written for the protection of these animals," Piccone said. "You're saying as a rescue: I'm so committed to this pet that I'm willing to follow it through to the end of that pet's life."

Ruby Ranch believes the ponies belong there and could head to civil court to prove it.

The only loophole in this case could be if the contract did not have sufficient language to justify re-possession.

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