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Shelter Files Lawsuit On Cat Owner For Letting Adopted Cat Out On A Leash

Discussion in 'The Cat Lounge' started by LTS3, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. LTS3

    LTS3 Thread Starter TCS Member Staff Member Forum Helper

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    A brief frolic outside may cost a woman her cat - The Boston Globe

    I can't believe this:eek: A woman adopted a cat from a shelter and is being sued by the shelter for breach of contract all because she took her cat outside on a leash and posted a video of it on FB. The owner of the shelter saw the video and is suing and wants the cat back. The adoption contract says the cat must be indoors only and can't be taken outside on a leash or anything.

    A lot of the comments are siding with the cat owner. Ok so the owner posted a cute video on FB like many other pet owners. And she signed the contract which she says she read and knows about the indoor only thing. Still there's no reason for a lawsuit because the shelter owner feels that the cat is not being scared for properly.
     
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  2. Willowy

    Willowy TCS Member Top Cat

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    Apparently it's in their contract not to take the cat out on leash. . .so they're legally within their contract. But I think that's unreasonable. I have no idea why they'd make that a condition. I don't know if their prohibition on letting the cat out "on a deck" would include catios and other enclosures too, but obviously that would be ridiculous. Clearly most rescue aren't going to adopt to a family that lets the cat roam free, but leashes and enclosures are about as safe as indoors (I do think a prohibition on a tie-out would be reasonable, but not a leash while accompanied by a human).

    Anyway, no, the rescue shouldn't be wasting their time and money on this. It's a lot of nonsense.
     
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  3. war&wisdom

    war&wisdom TCS Member Super Cat

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    Even the rescue owner's lawyer thinks that pursuing the case is unnecessary. That's unusual!
     
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  4. LTS3

    LTS3 Thread Starter TCS Member Staff Member Forum Helper

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    I'm kind of in between - yes, the owner took her cat outside which was a breach of the contract but, at the same time, is taking a cat outside on a leash really a big deal worth a lawsuit? It appears the woman lives in an apartment building. Is taking the cat for a walk on a leash outside the apartment but still within the building a breach of the contract?
     

  5. AbbysMom

    AbbysMom At Abby's beck and call Staff Member Moderator

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    I guess it would depend on the exact wording of the contract, but I wouldn’t think so since the cat is technically inside.

    I’ve taken Abby outside on a leash and I’m wondering if there was something in the shelter contract about indoor only. I don’t remember. I do know there was a no- declaw clause.
     

  6. kashmir64

    kashmir64 TCS Member Top Cat

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    With all the money the shelter is wasting on lawyers and legal fees, they could have saved a lot of kitties. Makes you wonder where the priorities of the shelter really lie.
     
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  7. FelisCatus

    FelisCatus RIP </3 Alpha Cat

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    I signed a similar contract when I adopted my most recent rescue.

    There were other clauses as well that seemed actually extreme but I guess could/have happened.

    -You will not experiment on this cat
    -This cat is not meant for scientific research

    Ooookay.....
     
    foxxycat purraised this.

  8. PushPurrCatPaws

    PushPurrCatPaws TCS Member Top Cat

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    Looking into this a bit further, it seems Muse is pretty "famous" and I wouldn't doubt that the owner of The Odd Cat Sanctuary would feel a bit invested both in Muse, Muse's story and his followup care, and in her own adoption contract clauses.
    Burned Kitty Rescued From Death Row Will "Make Some Family Very Happy" - iHeartCats.com
    MuseTheOddCat (@musetheoddcat) • Instagram photos and videos

    I don't know if disallowing even supervised, outdoor "on leash" restrictions would be unreasonable in a normal contract, but I think I understand that this sanctuary caters to injured, previously injured or abused cats, or cats with birth defects -- so that's the common denominator. I think I can understand the worry there. The restriction seems a bit more reasonable, since these are likely special needs cats.

    But I think Muse is with a good human, and the point by the sanctuary owner has been made.
     

  9. FelisCatus

    FelisCatus RIP </3 Alpha Cat

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    Woah they are quite the celebrity indeed, this actually raises a question I have... how many fellow TCSers have instagram accounts for their kitties? Do we have a page to share them?
     
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  10. RajaNMizu

    RajaNMizu TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    I don't have an instagram account for my own cats but my sister created one to prove a point about how many followers she could obtain in a short period of time. She won that bet too.
     
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  11. rgwanner

    rgwanner TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    The shelter I volunteer with has an indoor only clause. I don't think they would sue for a cat being on a leash. Kind of a waste of money if the owner otherwise is responsible. I think the shelter should evaluate where its money can do the most good.

    I know the staff went to a home and took back a cat because the owner had made an appointment to have it declawed but that is very different.

    I would like to know how this turns out.
     

  12. LTS3

    LTS3 Thread Starter TCS Member Staff Member Forum Helper

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    There are people who will adopt cats and dogs from shelters and then sell them directly to research organizations for use. The USDA and APHIS classify these people as "class B dealers". Most respectable companies in industry and academia that use animals for research will obtain animals directly from "class A dealers", or companies that breed and sell animals specifically for research use only. Health status and history of these animals are known and documented whereas shelter animals typically have unknown histories which may affect the outcome of studies.

    Back to the original topic, I did not know that the cat in question has an Instagram account and is famous. That was not mentioned in the Globe article.

    A few comments of the article ask whether putting the cat into a carrier to be taken to the vet or just grabbed in the event of a fire or emergency would be considered a breach of the contract as well.
     

  13. FelisCatus

    FelisCatus RIP </3 Alpha Cat

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    That’s just nitpicking though, like of course in an emergency you could put them in a crate, but this was not an emergency.

    Either way the shelter tarnished their reputation with this frivolous lawsuit.
     
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  14. Max's Human

    Max's Human MAX Alpha Cat

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    There seems to me much more HORRIBLE FATES, than walking on a leash for a feline! When I adopted my Malamute, he could not be in the back of a pickup, which I GET since falling out, choking, dragged or run over would all be lethal!!! Also I had to have my back fence made taller by 2 feet, again because potential choking, escaping, being out lose are all potential death sentences! Unless they think that first on a leash, then out loose by themselves. But as you pointed out, it's their responsibility, to help homeless animals find a Loving/Caring family, not waste $$ dealing with lawsuits. Shame on Them!!!!!!
     
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  15. PushPurrCatPaws

    PushPurrCatPaws TCS Member Top Cat

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    I don't think it is a frivolous lawsuit, not for cats that have had trauma, injuries, the possibilities of PTSD.

    Cats are not as easy to control on leashes as are dogs. Cats are much more unpredictable. They can get spooked at anything. They bolt, jump, twist, turn, get out of harnesses and leashes and collars quite often and easily. And that's even for "normal" cats, not to mention ones who could be special needs cats with bad, traumatic histories. it can be really worrisome.

    The adopter signed the contract. The no leash thing was in the contract.

    The cat is a special needs cat.

    It takes a cat some time to get used to a harness and leash. It takes some training. So, I myself wonder just a bit at the claim that the outdoor event for Muse was a single instance. Why train your cat in a harness and leash if you did not mean to use a harness and leash fairly often? I certainly wouldn't. It took me eons to get Milly trained to not freak out over a harness or a leash. In fact, she wasn't trainable to wearing a harness... I had to resort to just a collar and leash. Now, I don't let my cat outside because I live in an urban environment. It is not safe, in leash or harness or with nothing on the cat's body. I walked my cat Milly indoors on one hallway on one floor of my apartment building, to give her unfettered rehabilitative walking after her two knee surgeries.

    There are plenty of instances of cats bolting outside when on leashes/ harnesses. They can get spooked at anything. I don't know what type of leash/ harness was used in this case, but just google how cats (or dogs) have either been harmed, killed or escaped while out on certain leashes and harnesses.

    There have even been discussions here about certain harnesses or leashes.
    Retractable Leashes For Cats?

    As far as uncovered decks, we've even had a special member here at TCS lose her dearest cat. The attention spans and mobility of all cats can change in a blink of an eye. Tragedies and pure accidents can happen.
    In Loving Memory Of Ashton


    If the Sanctuary's contract has certain clauses in it, I am sure there are good reasons or good information or histories for them, if even to address worries and fears in trying to provide a safe forever home for a cat.

    I believe the owner of this Sanctuary is a good person, and I believe Muse's owner is a good person. Both have invested care, love, money and stability for Muse. I hope the two of them can come to an understanding. I don't blame either for each their positions. If anything, maybe they can do community outreach together, if they do come to good terms on this situation.

    For some cats, in some cases, better safe than sorry. I think that's the point of the no leash or no deck clauses.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019

  16. sabrinah

    sabrinah TCS Member Super Cat

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    The only issue I have is that she said she "him out with his collar and leash." Does this mean the leash was hooked to the collar, not a harness? A collar isn't secure and the cat could have totally escaped. I would understand it more if the sanctuary said they would take Muse away if the owner didn't get a proper harness or something.
     
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  17. amethyst

    amethyst TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    Reading the article, I get the impression that the owner trained the cat on leash so she could walk it around inside the apartment building. That is not uncommon, a lot of people do that to give the cat more room to walk around but safely since they are still inside. It says they ran into a neighbor and stepped outside, so it was just that one time, likely not really thinking. I don't think she had any actual intention of taking the cat outside for a walk, likely one of those talking and walking situations. I'm not saying she was right to take him out, but I do think she realized her mistake, and no harm was done. If he had gotten loose or scared though it would be a completely different story.

    Unless there is more to the story I think the shelter owner is going a bit overboard with a lawsuit. If there was evidence that this was a normal occurrence then yeah I think she has a case, but it doesn't sound like it is. Perhaps something more along the lines of surprise house checks or something or even a private investigator (to provide proof it wasn't just a one time mistake) would likely be cheaper then a lawsuit.
     

  18. FelisCatus

    FelisCatus RIP </3 Alpha Cat

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    I could see the absent minded walk and talk happen.

    Too bad Muse can’t speak for himself... he would probably say “you all just need to calm down, no harm no foul”. If it happened again, sure... but one mistake (innocent until proven guilty?) shouldn’t be blown out of proprotion.
     
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  19. Willowy

    Willowy TCS Member Top Cat

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    Yeah, I think the rescue operator was within their rights to have a bit of a chat about breaking the contract. And maybe things got personal, you know how that goes. But I think trying to remove the cat from the home was overreacting, and the lawsuit is major overreacting!
     
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  20. PushPurrCatPaws

    PushPurrCatPaws TCS Member Top Cat

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    I don't have any connection to this rescue, and had not even heard of this story until LTS3 (who may live in that area?) posted about it.

    I think it's very possible that the communications between Howard and the Sanctuary owner got strained -- none of us know exactly what's been going on between them because we are not them. But this article does suggest that the rescue owner went the "legal route" because she felt Howard wouldn't communicate with her.
    Shelter Sues to Get Cat Back From Woman Over Video

    Who knows.

    The thing is, putting things on social media can artificially inflate the situation, and may not be an accurate representation to the real happenings...
    -- for Howard, who says this only happened once in November, a video of Muse rolling around outdoors can make it seem like it is something he commonly does, when it goes viral (or if it had gone viral?) and everyone sees it,
    -- for the Sanctuary owner, with her specific contract meant for all adopters, the representation of something that seems to imply something totally against her policy, or choice or idea of long-term safety for the cat, she is faced with the social media world seeing that visual "precedent" set up by Howard, with her video of Muse outside.

    I hope it doesn't go further legally, and that the parties can come to some agreement, but honestly, I guess I feel like cats on leashes and collars or harnesses outside can easily be spooked and dart away into whatever unknown safety situation. Happens all the time.

    I don't know. If it does go to the Superior Court or wherever, everyone will certainly have to address adoption contracts and what's reasonable, valid, and what is not.
    :dunno:

    I guess I appreciate the care and concern this Sanctuary owner has, too. She has years of having been a vet tech. There are lots of stories about the good the rescue has done.
    THE ODD CAT SANCTUARY

    This Sanctuary Is Dedicated To "Odd" Cats Because All Cats Are Special - iHeartCats.com

    Cat Who Was Found Lying in the Street Finally Has What He's Been Waiting for
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
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