This is a rather disturbing/depressing story. This Manhattan woman's cat, Oliver, escaped, was turned over to a shelter, and promptly adopted by someone else, who refuses to give him back. And according to a rather vague 1894 statute, "a pet owner's right to reclaim a lost pet is terminated if the animal is not claimed within 48 hours of being seized by an authorized city agency." So now she has to battle it out in court to get her beloved kitty back. I can't even imagine how much that would suck.
o Oliver's new owner is a jerk. Yes, she has a legal claim to keep the cat, but for all intents and purposes she has stolen or kidnapped him, and her argument is basically, "Hey, you shouldn't have let him escape - once he gets out, he's fair game." But even if the new owner has indeed bonded with him, Oliver's previous owner should have a stronger claim, unless she was abusive or negligent. Also, consider how cats (and pets in general) are like family for a lot of people. Imagine if your child wandered off one day, the stranger who found him decided to keep him or her, and then argued that you lost the kid because you're a lousy parent.UPDATE: The NY Daily News covered this story as well, and notes that the first owner had Oliver for four years, while the new owner had him for ONE WEEK before deciding to keep him. I'm going to amend my intial assessment from "jerk" to "completely fucking selfish and evil."
o Didn't Oliver have a nametag with his owner's contact information? If so, why didn't the shelter or the person who found him attempt to contact his owner? If he didn't (it doesn't look like he has one in the photo accompanying the article), why the hell not??? I wouldn't go so far as to say she deserves to lose her cat because she didn't give him a nametag, but she was certainly tempting fate. If I'm the new owner or her lawyer, I would make that front and center in any claims of negligence (the new owner is claiming negligence, but she appears to be using the escape itself as her evidentiary trump card).
o If you have cats or dogs, give them nametags. Hell, give them those tracer chip implants if you can. And if it doesn't exist already, there should be some kind of central lost-pet registry where all the shelters log brief descriptions of any animals they receive, as well as when and where they were found. So if you lose your pet, you can just check the registry rather than going from shelter to shelter. Somehow, I suspect that this will never happen...