Can I keep my pet after I file for Bankruptcy?

A consumer contacted me recently and asked if they could keep their dog after they filed for Bankruptcy. They were worried that their credit card company would repossess the dog.

The answer is a 2 step process.

Step 1- is the Bankruptcy trustee going to take the animal? A Bankruptcy Trustee can only take the pet if the animal has resale value and is not exempt. In Virginia, pets and service animals (seeing eye dogs, etc) are exempt. Show animals may not be, and commercial animals may not be. In a Chapter 13, pet expenses are permitted, as long as they are reasonable, so you are permitted to continue to be able to pay for your pet.

Step 2- Is there a lender who might want to repossess the animal if you file Bankruptcy?

The answer in most cases is that most dogs, cats, fish and birds are not repossessed. There are exceptions, if the pet is a professional show pet, or otherwise very valuable, but for most pets, the answer is that the pet will be left alone. That Pek-a-poo (Pekinese/poodle mix) has almost no resale value.

Horses, cows and sheep and other farm animals are different. They may have substantial resale value.

But there is more. In order to repossess an animal, the finance company has to have a right to repossess the animal. That means that they have to have paperwork that shows that they can, and have filed the paperwork in the right place. If the pet is a $10,000 dog, they are likely to do some paperwork, but for the puppy from the pound, lenders are unlikely to want to do that papwork.


OUR FEES: Our fees are controlled by the local rules and your situation. They may vary from “free” or probono representation to a flat fee to an hourly fee, depending on your situation.

KCLS is a debt relief agency.  In the appropriate circumstance, we help people file for Bankruptcy.

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Krumbein Consumer Legal Services, Inc.
5310 Markel Rd. Suite 102
Richmond, VA 23230