'This is a dispute over a dog named Oliver': Appeals court rules in favor of woman who sued friend over dog ownership

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a woman who left her dog with a friend for several years, then sued him when he refused to give the dog back.

“This is a dispute over a dog named Oliver,” the appellate court decision reads. The court notes that Oliver is a “light-colored, mixed-breed dog with some poodle and beagle ancestry.” 

According to the court documents, the woman had owned Oliver since 2008 and he lived with her and her other, smaller dog, Alex, in Minnesota. 

When the woman moved to California in 2013, her housing did not permit dogs so she left both dogs in Minnesota with a man she had briefly dated and who was a close friend at the time. The dogs lived with him for several years under an informal agreement. 

After several years, the woman brought Alex to live with her in California, but Oliver remained with her friend. Almost a year later, she tried to reclaim Oliver. When the man refused, she sued him. 

The district court ruled in favor of the woman’s friend, determining that the woman abandoned Oliver when she left him with her friend for so long. 

The appeals court reversed that decision, finding the law governing person property requires the man to give the woman personal notice that ownership would be transferred if she did not reclaim Oliver within 30 days. Because the man did not do that, the woman remains Oliver’s legal owner.