May 11, 2018

So You Want a Dog...

by John A. Bell, Esq.

There are some important things to consider when you decide to get a dog. First, give some thought and do some research on different breed traits, so you can choose a breed that will best fit your situation.

Once you decide on a breed, one of the best places to acquire your dog is a Humane Society or a Rescue. Their dogs are evaluated, up-to-date on shots and implanted with a microchip so that the dog is returned to you if it ever gets lost. The adoption fee paid to a Rescue or a Humane Society is a small fraction of what a breeder will charge for the same animal. For example, a pure-bred, healthy Golden Retriever can be obtained from Golden Retriever Rescue groups for $150 to $300, while breeders charge $2,500 to $3,000 for the same dog.

Rescue groups are also private, non-profit corporations. They are required to register with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, but they are not inspected nor regulated. In Ohio, a “County Humane Society” is not an agency of county government, but is also a private, non-profit charitable corporation.

Secondly, make sure you receive a “Transfer of Ownership Certificate,” signed by the seller, on a form provided by the County Auditor. The Certificate contains the registration number of the dog, the name of the seller and a description of the dog. Take the Certificate to the County Auditor to be recorded. Their fee will be $5 and you can license your dog while you are there.

If the seller uses a written contract, read the contract carefully before you sign it. Many Rescues and other sellers will require you to return the dog to them rather than selling or giving the dog to a third party. There are legal and practical limitations on these contract provisions, but you should assume that the contract is enforceable, and you should comply with the “right of first refusal” in the contract.

And keep in mind that in Ohio, dogs can be designated as “nuisance,” “dangerous” or “vicious” dogs, based on certain behaviors. If the dog you choose has been designated as a “dangerous dog,” the Transfer of Ownership Certificate must also contain additional information regarding the reasons for that designation. An owner of a “dangerous dog” is also required to have special liability insurance and to take extra precautions in how they house or confine the dog.

Happy puppy shopping!