Court denies animal rescue owner’s claim for payment for dead puppies born to adopted dog

A woman who runs a dog rescue organization on Vancouver Island has lost a court battle for compensation for two dead puppies born to a dog she adopted.

Laura Snoek of Ziggy’s Rescue in Port Alberni, B.C., also lost her bid to have the dog returned to her after a B.C. Provincial Court judge ruled the dog, named Maddie, should stay in his “forever home”.

Court documents show Snoek originally sought either the return of Maddie and her entire litter of nine puppies or a sum of $9,000, claiming the dog’s new owners breached the adoption agreement.

Even when seven of the puppies were returned to her, she still demanded $1,400 for the two who died at birth, along with thousands more for lost earnings.

In his Oct. 5 ruling, Judge Alexander Wolf questioned whether Ziggy’s Rescue was truly a nonprofit, as it presents itself, and ultimately dismissed Snoek’s claims, ruling that Maddie should stay with her friends. new owners.

“Every dog ​​should have [its] day,” Wolf wrote. “And today is Maddie’s day.”

Contract terms

According to court documents, Snoek said she was paid $600 for Maddie as part of the adoption deal she signed with Allison Penko and Herbert Dwyer in May 2021.

She argued that Penko and Dwyer took possession of Maddie, but did not actually own the dog as the contract required Maddie to be spayed for ownership to be finalized.

However, Maddie was pregnant and could not be sterilized until after giving birth.

As a result, Snoek argued that Maddie and her litter of nine puppies belonged to him.

Snoek says she lost income because the puppies weren’t born in her care and cited other breaches of contract as reasons for wanting Maddie back.

In a Notice of Claim filed in June 2021, Snoek requested the “return of dog and litter of puppies immediately or $9,000.” She also claimed $1,000 for veterinary bills and $5,000 for court costs and legal services.

In a revised notice of claim filed last November, she said she obtained and sold seven of the nine puppies, partially compensating for lost earnings. She still claimed $1,400 for the two dead puppies, along with an additional $5,000 for lost earnings.

Counterclaims

In a response filed in August and amended in December, Penko and Dwyer denied having entered into an agreement regarding the birth of the puppies.

“We contracted with plaintiffs who presented themselves as a registered, non-profit animal rescue society, not a dog breeder,” they wrote in an amended response.

Penko and Dwyer sought $4,900 for breach of contract, claiming they gave the seven puppies to the SPCA, which in turn returned them to Snoek, who then sold them. They also claimed $268 for court filing costs and $709 for veterinary bills.

Wolf wrote that the contract contained “a number of unreasonable conditions”, including one that allowed someone with Ziggy’s permission to visit the house at any time to check on the dog.

On one occasion, when Snoek went to Penko and Dwyer to give Maddie deworming treatment, a heated argument ensued.

“She showed up, called the defendants, caused a disturbance and frightened them to the point that they felt unsafe in their own home,” Wolf wrote in her ruling.

“The family of the accused is restored”

Wolf denied the defendants’ $4,900 counterclaim related to proceeds from the sale of the seven puppies. The judge also ruled that the couple would be responsible for the vet’s bill and that Snoek should cover the legal costs.

Wolf also said Snoek “wasn’t very direct in her interactions with the court,” saying she seemed “intentionally vague” when asked if Ziggy’s was officially a nonprofit.

As for Maddie, she can stay with Penko and Dwyer.

Wolf said the fact that Maddie is now sterilized removes any doubt about whether the defendants are her owner. Even though she was not sterilized, the judge found the argument that “adoption means permanent” compelling.

“The time has come for Maddie to finally know that she is in her forever home and that the defendant’s family is well,” he said.


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Jennifer R. Strohm