Adopting a pet makes it feel like a member of the family. However, for reasons beyond your control, you may have to relinquish ownership of your pet to someone else. If you want to specify care and treatment, a written contract is a good way to transfer pet ownership. If your pet is microchipped, ownership must be transferred as well, as must local licences. Pets with pedigrees, especially cats and dogs, should have ownership transferred to the pedigree association as well.
Method 1 Drafting a Transfer of Ownership Agreement
1. Talk about pet care with the new owner. Even though your pet is a friend and companion, they are considered property under the law. You are not required to enter into any special agreements with the new owner regarding care and treatment, but you may do so if you wish.
For example, you might want your pet to continue seeing the same veterinarian. If the new owner lives in the same town as you, they may be willing to do so.
If your pet is currently receiving medication, make sure the new owner is aware of this. Ascertain that they understand the dosing schedule.
2. Look for templates and samples on the internet. Many non-profit pet adoption organisations have sample transfer of ownership agreements that you can use for your own needs. Just remember to tailor the agreement to your specific requirements. If you don’t understand a clause or it doesn’t apply to your situation, don’t copy it verbatim.
For example, if you and your new owner live in North Carolina, you wouldn’t want to copy an agreement clause stating that the agreement was governed by California law.
You can also find sample transfer of ownership agreements on the websites of pet attorneys and legal document websites. Some will charge you a fee to access or create these documents.
3. Include personal information about yourself as well as the new owner. List your full legal names as well as the new owner’s full legal names, and state that you are transferring full and complete ownership of the pet from yourself to the new owner.
Indicate the address of your and the new owner’s primary residence. You should also include any additional contact information, such as phone numbers or email addresses.
4. Provide information about the pet. The agreement should include a description of your pet, including the animal, breed (if applicable), and coloration. If you want, you can also include your pet’s name.
Many pet-transfer agreements include medical information about the pet, such as a record of veterinary checkups and vaccinations. You should also mention if your pet has any medical conditions, such as a heart murmur or hip dysplasia.
Include your pet’s licence or tag number, as well as any registration or microchip numbers. Include a statement stating that these numbers will be transferred to the new owner. As the pet’s previous owner, you are usually responsible for this.
5. Include appropriate disclaimers and a choice of law. The agreement will become legally binding once you and the new owner sign it. Your agreement, like any other legal contract, should include standard provisions stating that the document represents the entire agreement between you and the new owner.
If you and the new owner both live in the same state, simply state that the agreement will be governed by the laws of the state in which you both reside. If you live in different states, talk to the new owner about it.
You should also specify where and how the agreement can be enforced. If necessary, you can go to court to enforce the agreement, or you can provide for mediation or arbitration. While this is unlikely, the purpose of a written contract is to ensure that all bases are covered.
6. Sign the contract. Once the agreement has been drafted, both you and the new owner should sign it. Make and sign two copies, one for you and one for the new owner, so that both of you have an original with original signatures.
Most states do not require you to sign your agreement in front of a notary. However, you may want to do so in order to avoid future disagreements. The new owner, for example, could claim they never signed the document. They could prove it with a notarized signature.
Method 2 Transferring Licenses and Microchips
1. Complete a licence transfer form. The city or county where you live issues pet licences. A transfer form is available at animal shelters and many veterinarians. You might also be able to get a copy of the form online.
The form requests information about you and the new owner, as well as basic pet information. You must include the pet’s licence number as well as a brief description of the animal.
2. If necessary, sign the form in the presence of a notary. Typically, the licence transfer form must be signed by both you and the new owner. You may be required to sign in front of a notary public in some cities or counties. Check the form to see if there is a section for a notary’s signature and seal.
After you’ve signed the form, make two copies so that both you and the new owner have a copy for your records. The original must be returned to the city or county animal control authority.
3. If necessary, submit your form in person. Some cities or counties require you to deliver your form to an animal shelter or animal control office in person. Both the old and new owners are usually required to be present.
There is usually no fee for simply transferring the licence to a new owner. However, if the new owner wishes to obtain a new licence number or have new tags printed, they may be required to pay a fee.
4. Determine the location of your pet’s microchip registration. If your pet is microchipped, the microchip is registered with a specific service. Some city and county governments have their own agreements with these services, so microchip registration will be transferred along with the pet’s licence. Normally, you’ll have to do this separately.
If you’re unsure which service registers your pet’s microchip, look up the microchip number at http://www.petmicrochiplookup.org/.
5. Follow the instructions provided by the microchip registration service. Each registration service has its own procedure for changing microchip registration ownership. Some require a fee to be paid, while others do not.
In most cases, the transfer of microchip registration takes 2 to 3 weeks to take effect.
Method 3 Updating the Pet’s Registration
1. Find the registration certificate for the pet. If you have a pedigreed cat or dog, the pedigree association will provide you with a registration certificate. This could be a “blue slip” from the Cat Fanciers’ Association for cats (CFA).
The American Kennel Club registers pedigreed dogs in the United States (AKC).
2. Fill out the transfer information on the certificate’s back. Registration certificates are organised in the same way that car titles are. On the back of the certificate, there are boxes where you can transfer registration of your pet from yourself to a new owner.
Make sure to include the new owner’s complete mailing address. This is the address where the pedigree association will send a new certificate to the new owner.
Dogs may necessitate the use of an additional transfer form. If the dog has had more than two registered owners, this is usually the case.
3. Sign the certificate in the name of the previous owner. For the transfer, the new owner may not be required to sign the registration certificate. You must, however, sign it as the previous owner. Make a copy for your own records after signing it.
The procedure for dogs differs slightly. Another section of transfer information must be filled out and signed by the new owner. The certificate is then sent to the AKC by the new owner.
4. Send the pedigree certificate to the pedigree association. The address to which the certificate must be sent can be found beneath the boxes for transfer information on the back of the certificate. The pedigree association will send the new owner a new certificate.
Include payment for the transfer fees in the form of a check or money order. These fees are typically in the $20 to $30 range. To find the most up-to-date fee information, visit the pedigree association’s website.
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