Pay your pet’s vet bills

Today I was reading recently published opinions by the Georgia Court of Appeals. I read Gomez v. Innocenta case involving a dispute over a veterinarian’s bills for medical services and boarding costs of a dog. After nonpayment of the bills, the vet kept the dog in his possession. The opinion revolved around Georgia’s veterinarian lien statute, O.C.G.A. Section 44-14-490.

I have dealt, quite extensively, with the mechanic and materialmen lien statute but had not realized veterinarians had similar rights after treating or boarding an animal or pet. The statute allows the vet to retain possession of the animal until the bill is paid. If the bill remains unpaid, Section 44-14-490 allows the vet to sell or give away the animal, or euthanize the animal if a humane society is not within a fifty mile radius.

South Carolina has a similar statute found at Section 40-69-285 of the South Carolina Code. South Carolina gives the vet the right to retain the animal until the bill is paid and the right to sell the animal if the bill is not paid within ten days of notice.

It appears that some other states do not give veterinarians similar rights in the animals they treat and board. What do you think?

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