HomeHuman to cat relationshipmicrochippingSue in the tort of conversion to recover your cat unlawfully possessed by another

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Sue in the tort of conversion to recover your cat unlawfully possessed by another — 38 Comments

  1. I don’t know whether what you said holds any legal water (I know nothing about law!) but I agree that a unified chip database would have prevented this.

    It’s probably can’t /won’t ever happen.

    In hope the public realise this is an edge case and that chipping is a good thing.

  2. Sadly, unless Ms Coucoulis can provide proof of ownership, she has no case. A microchipped database that is flawed works against her. Not even a pic could prove her case. If the “new owners” had even a bit of heart, they would return her. But, unlikely.

    • Dee, I believe she can establish ownership with a range of evidence bundled together such as neighbour’s affidavit, photos, docs obtained when adopting from a shelter (if that was the case), her family’s evidence in an affidavit and of course the microchip.

      • But, the microchipping database was flawed. In any case, I hope that she can recover her beloved cat.
        On the other hand, it’s heartbreaking for both sides. The new people have grown to love this sweetheart, and I know how giving up a cat that you love can rip your heart out.
        If it were possible, “sharing” would be the answer. But, it doesn’t seem likely in this case.

    • I didn’t see that Kathy. I am not sure that’ll make any difference because there is a lot of evidence which supports the original owner’s claim.

      • I don’t know what vet would remove one chip and replace it with a new one. As a rule the chip can be transferred with the animal. Which might suggest the rescue and the new owners not thieves knew the cat had an owner but didn’t really pursue it. Sort of like tampering with evidence if that happened.

        • M E King the adopters are not new owners. They have been granted the right of new registered keepership or if you like custodianship by Cats Protection, which meant they were allowed to change the details registered to the chip with Anibase. It’s not morally right, and is seriously questionable from a legal point of view, but it happened nonetheless. Marine remains Booba/Duke’s lawful owner and will remain so for the 6 years directly after rehoming. But unless she can get some major help from somewhere and someone to be able to be in a position to take Cats Protection to civil court her lawful right of ownership which trumps registered keepership won’t make any difference whatsoever to her and Booba/Duke and he will stay with the adopters. It’s immoral and totally wrong, but that’s how it stands right now.

          • Thanks for commenting Lee. Appreciated. I would advise her to sue as stated in the article and bring in Cats Protection as a third party to proceedings to force them to disclose the whereabouts of those in possession of Booba. She could sue them both as joint defendants.

          • I think that rather than change the details they have made a new registration on Anibase as that chip was not previously registered on their database. According to what Marine has said the French database still shows Booba’s original registration unchanged.

        • It’s absurd and immoral. The new keepers must know that they are in wrong in which case they are acting immorally and I’d say illegally.

          • I was commenting on someone else’s question. The shelter reassigned Mercy’s chip number to us. She was surrendered. I know our county shelter puts up lost pets and asks if anyone knows who owns or if anyone would like to adopt. I’m going to guess this practice is fairly common. This woman just happened to track down her cat. We had a dog case in Albuquerque that got quite nasty a few years back.
            I would have the rescue in court.

            • Thanks ME. I agree that the only or best way forward is to seek the assistance of the court. I feel confident that it would be a success provided the judge was decent. In the small claims court some judges are relatively poor and they have lots of discretion.

              • I know from suing my Bad Vet that during motions I was able to obtain a large packet of information I could not have received simply by demand. Private information might be allowed but withheld only available to the judge but he could issue a summons. I’m far from being a lawyer but there are many provisions in the law to allow them to gain access to the needed information.
                One thing to remember. The new guardians adopted in good faith. They are in a way victims in this too. The process of choosing a new family member can be taxing and while they may have only had this cat for a short time they may have been looking for a long time also.
                Mercy was owner surrendered and I questioned the shelter when they transferred the chip that there was no way the ex-owners could show up and ask for her back. Sometimes a bit of empathy can go a long way.

          • They were acting legally up to the point where they became aware that a legal owner had come forward. After that by refusing to give up the cat they could well have committed theft by appropriation as defined in the Theft Act 1968.

            An important case in English property law is Armory v Delamirie (1722) which found that “a finder has better title to property that he or she finds over everyone except the true owner”.In this case the RSPCA were entitled to assume ownership of Booba under the principle of bailment by finding and to pass on the assumed rights of ownership to Cats Protection and they in turn to the people who have him now but, as set out in Armory v Delamirie above, that right of ownership does not hold against the rights of the true owner, unless it can be shown that the true owner intentionally abandoned the property.

            • Thanks a lot Gail for your much appreciated additional information. I agree with you. As there is no chance of the police charging her with theft the only way forward as I see it is a civil action in tort.

    • No Kathy they didn’t. Cats Protection gave the adopters the right to take over the chip, so the adopters are now logged as the new registered keepers of Booba/Duke on the authority of Cats Protection say so. Marine, the lawful owner, had no say in it whatsoever. The adopters don’t own the cat and will not ever own the cat, because by hook or by crook Marine will get him back within 6 years of his having been adopted. Marine has more rights to Booba/Duke under UK law, but she is stuck between a rock and a hard place and that is what Cats Protection and the RSPCA are banking on – they think she will just give up, or will not find a lawyer willing to take them on, or that she will not be able to get the money together to be able to sue them. It’s a truly despicable state of affairs. And it could happen to any one of us, up-to-date Uk implanted, Uk registered chip or not.

      • Thanks, Lee, for referring to the time limitation in bringing a tort claim (excepting PI). The lady should not be fearful in suing. Just in commencing a legal action or threatening it, something can often happen. It loosens the impasse and makes the wrong-doer think about what they are doing.

  3. it should be a simple matter of, like ME King says, matching the numbers, as well as the pic of the cat(since its on a friggin LEGAL pet website!)& having the court force the faux owners to give it up to the true owner. this is another instance of, when the law is shown as inadequate, a law & the system being held accountable to what its SUPPOSE to stand for. like ME says, if someone steals ur car, even if they fix it up, put on brand new tires, & a better paint job it doesnt make it theirs. it just means they took care of something they stole. especially in this case where they KNOW the cat isnt theirs & they r refusing to relinquish it. i dont see why the police arent just taking the cat from those people since it IS stolen property now that the real owner has identified themselves. i would have driven to those peoples home to get my cat back, & dared those people to call the police too since it wouldve forced the thieves to surrender the cat to the authorities which would make it FAR easier to get it back them as far as i can see, but maybe im missing something. still, our animal & owner rights laws are woefully lacking in this world.

    • i think Marine would have done exactly the same as you if she was allowed to just know where Booba/Duke is. But the police would have just ordered you to give the cat back to the adopters and go through Civil court. It’s crap, but true.

    • When you hear of people in London who have their house burgled and all they get from the police is a crime number so they can claim from their insurance, I can see how it might be difficult getting the police to pursue a case of returning a lost cat.

      There was a similar case reported last week, that of Tigger, a bengal cat in the West Midlands who had been missing for four years. The comments reported from Staffordshire Police are interesting in regard to Booba’s situation.

      “A spokesperson for Staffordshire Police on Friday said: ‘Staffordshire Police was made aware of the incident involving the once, missing cat which has now ended up in the possession of, currently, unknown people or person.

      ‘Via a third party, this individual or individuals have been made aware that the cat in their possession has an owner and they should take appropriate steps to return the cat to its rightful owner.

      ‘We expect this to happen. Failure to do so could result in further police action.’

      Cats Protection seem to be the only ones in a position to act as the “third party” in Booba’s case. It is a pity they don’t seem willing to do so.

      I really hope the Metropolitan Police can be persuaded to take an interest in the same way as Staffordshire Police did with Tigger.

  4. Saying the microchip does not prove ownership is like having the police find your stolen car and saying they can’t return it because the thieves like it more. As far as I know the chip numbers are unique. Just like the vin number on my car is unique so is the chip number. This is all a lot of bullcrap.

    • Well the thing is M E King it depends who you talk to at Cats Protection and the RSPCA on any given day as to whether they will slip and say the cat’s owner when referring to the person’s contact details registered to the chip or whether they say it and then quickly correct themselves to say registered keeper or whether you have to point out to them that the chip is not proof of ownership and that the contact details on the chip are just proof of registered keepership and nothing more. So if the RSPCA and Cats Protection get confused about it and the police get confused about and I had to keep correcting a police officer repeatedly when I spoke to him yesterday about this then you can see how easy it is for the RSPCA and Cats Protection to deliberately muddy the waters on this. It’s publicly hugely embarrassing for them and terrible publicity that they can screw up so easily, so they will not admit they screwed up, so they are going to hang onto this until the bitter end until a judge forces them to give in and do what they should have done all along and help Marine get Booba/Duke back in any way possible. It is like you caught a kids hand in the candy jar and his mouth is bulging full of stolen sweets and you ask him if he stole the sweets and he can’t answer because if he does all the sweets will fall out so he says “uh, uh” and shakes his head to indicate no. So you tickle the kid until he spits all the sweets out. And you ask him again if he stole the sweets and he still says no even though the evidence is all over the floor, the table, the chair, his face. This is what Marine is facing. And it’s truly, truly wicked that this is being allowed to happen to her and Booba/Duke.

      • Well said Lee. I agree with you. They (RSPCA, Cats Protection and the new keepers) have to be forced to do the right thing. There is no doubt that the original owners remain the owners. The law must be able to assist in getting back possession.

      • If the micro chip does not prove ownership it sort of negates the whole idea of chipping a pet in the first place. It then becomes simply another racket to siphon money out of pet owners. It’s like saying information on pets collar tag doesn’t prove ownership. Or at least make a strong case for it. Consider the dogs that killed livestock and were shot. The tags on the dogs collars were sufficient proof in court to make the owners pay for the killed livestock. (sorry for the gore). AC has scanned dogs for chasing livestock and held the owners accountable out here. Chips put in by shelters not the owners. Rabies tags can be traced. The idea that a registered , key word here, registered chip number in a readily available data base doesn’t prove ownership is absurd. It may be what is going on, but it’s still absurd.

  5. I would absolutely sue not only the owners but Cat Protection as well,no one would be able to hold me back from reclaiming my cat,no one!

    • She will have to sue Cats Protection as until she does there is no way to get the contact details of the people who adopted Booba/Duke, because the police refuse to help her.

      • It might be worth Marine writing a letter to the Data Commissioner to ask what would be the position regarding data protection law if she intends to commence legal proceedings to regain possession of her property. I don’t recall the exact wording off-hand but there is a provision in the Data Protection Act that allows disclosure of protected information for the purpose of legal proceedings.

  6. Here in the U.S., that sort of thing is also settled in small claims court. There are a number of such televised “courts” that I’ve seen do it. When a defendant says something like “But possession is 9/10ths of the law.” the judge just shuts them up and says “NONSENSE!”. I think here “Booba’s” rightful owner/guardian would be granted ownership. I have heard the phrase “unlawful conversion” used here too. I myself did one and pretty much prevailed, though I almost went to jail. (owner left very old pet cat to fend for itself while they went on two week vacation.)

    • What the “posession is 9/10th” of the law means is that the other person has to take action while the person in possession can do nothing. This puts the person with possession in a stronger position. Often presenting a brick wall wins. US law is similar to UK law probably because Brits founded the US 🙂 – I’m being simplistic and silly but you get the point.

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