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Absence of dog ownership contract ends B.C adoption fight

A dog fostering-adoption dispute came down to the absence of a contract.
There was no contract transferring ownership, B.C.'s Civil Resolution Tribunal ruled.

A B.C. woman won’t be getting a dog she claimed she adopted from a rescue service, the Civil Resolution Tribunal has ruled. 

According to tribunal documents, Margaret Halsey said she adopted Sophie the pooch from Lichen Tilley, the owner of the rescue service. 

Tilley acquired Sophie, then 9.5 years old, in January 2022 after the dog’s former family surrendered her. That same month, Halsey filled out Tilley’s application form to adopt or foster a dog.

“She also said she would consider just fostering or going straight to adoption,” said tribunal member Eric Regehr in his Dec. 9 decision. “She met Sophie around the same time.”

Tilley said the pair spoke on the phone on Feb. 26 about Halsey fostering Sophie but decided to wait until Halsey was done fostering another dog.

Tilley said she agreed to consider Halsey’s suitability for a permanent adoption during the foster period but said she had concerns about her relatively small urban yard.

“Ms. Halsey denies that Ms. Tilley ever mentioned fostering Sophie, although she does not specifically mention this alleged Feb. 26 conversation,” Regehr said.

Tribunal documents state Sophie lived with Halsey from March 2 to April 9, and was then returned to Tilley’s house. 

“It is undisputed that the parties both initially understood that Ms. Tilley would look after Sophie while Ms. Halsey travelled, and that Sophie would go back to Ms. Halsey on April 22, 2022,” the decision said.

When April 22 came, Tilley told Halsey she was keeping Sophie and that it was in the dog’s best interest.

Regehr found the parties’ correspondence about signing a contract showed that they were not on the same page about the nature of Sophie’s move to Halsey’s house.

He did agree with Halsey’s proposition that she wanted Sophie permanently. However, when making his decision, Regehr said it came down to the absence of a written contract. Halsey alleged there was a verbal contract but “I find it unproven that the parties entered into an explicit verbal contract about Sophie, either as an adoption or a foster,” he said.

“Viewed objectively, I find that the parties’ correspondence and conduct do not show a ‘meeting of the minds’ about adopting Sophie,” he said. “I find that there was no contract transferring ownership of Sophie from Ms. Tilley to Ms. Halsey, so Sophie remains Ms. Tilley’s property.”

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