Surrender and Adoption Agreements


Surrender and adoption agreements

Surrender agreements

In law dogs are regarded as personal property. This means that when a dog comes into your care you will need to take legal ownership of them. Keeping robust records of signed surrender forms is important to show that ownership has been transferred. It is also important to undertake check  to ensure that the person signing the dog over into your care is the dog’s legal owner. Often this can be determined by checking the dog’s microchip.

 (The position is different if the dog coming into your care is a stray)

Adoption Agreements

To our knowledge there is no reported case law testing the legal status of animal adoption agreements in Northern Ireland. English case law (all of which has focused on determining liability for tax) indicates that adoption agreements where there is a specified minimum donation are treated as analogous to a contract for sale. This means that, while many organisations include conditions of ownership which limit what the adoptive owner may do with the consent or knowledge of the rescue (e.g. transfer or euthanise the dog) these are unlikely to be legally enforceable unless you can show that the welfare of the dog is compromised and falls below minimum legal welfare standard and/or constitute animal cruelty. [S[2] 


Three Counties Dog Rescue v HMRC [2011] UKFTT 817 (TC)

Woodgreen Animal Shelters v HMRC [2012] (TC02118 – 20 July)

Gables Farm Dogs and Cats Homes v HMRC [2011] VTD 20519

 [S[1]link to section on strays

 [S[2]link to section on animal welfare/cruelty)