Judgment Debtor Pet Levies

August 11, 2023


Some people spend more money on their pets than they spend on their kids. Laws do not give pets or animals the same rights as people, although some cities give pets unbelievable rights. While it is not legal or possible to levy a judgment debtor’s kids, levying the debtor’s pets or animals is possible in most states. (While probably not cost effective, one could also have the Sheriff levy some expensive toys used by your debtor’s children, etc.)

This article is my opinion, and not legal advice. I am the judgment broker, and am not a lawyer. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.

As an enforcement technique, the good news is a judgment debtor’s pets(s) might be very important to them, and beginning a levy on their pet(s) might motivate a debtor to quickly pay off their judgment. Alternatively, a judgment debtor might own animals that are not pets, possibly for some business purpose; and that can also be a strong motivation to repay a judgment debt. The bad news is such a levy will be very expensive, and not every Sheriff will support this kind of levy.

A judgment enforcer friend of mine told me about their experience spending about $2,000 to levy their judgment debtor’s dogs, as their debtor owned a kennel and sold expensive dogs. The enforcer set up a new Hotmail address and emailed the debtor, and asked what kind of dogs were for sale. This was a form of pretexting, however it was not for banking information, so in my humble opinion; it was a legal thing to do; however I am not a lawyer.

Their judgment debtor responded very quickly, and emailed the enforcer a complete portfolio including a picture of every dog; bragging about their champion bloodlines, etc. The judgment enforcer then presented that information as evidence, proving that their judgment debtor owned assets, and got a writ of execution; and then got a turnover order signed by a judge.

One important consideration to keep in mind on any attempt to levy pets or animals, is that they are living beings; so they cannot simply be put into a storage locker until the Sheriff’s auction. One must pre-arrange with their Sheriff department, for the living quarters and care of the animal(s) until they are sold (usually at least 30 days), or until the judgment debtor pays off the judgment. This makes such levies expensive. However, sometimes starting such a levy does not require one to pay a lot of cash upfront. Also, if the debtor pays the Sheriff or files for bankruptcy protection, and the auction is canceled; some Sheriffs will refund a portion of the required deposit.

Continuing with the story, the judgment enforcer had their Sheriff serve the judge-signed turnover order on the debtor. Then, the very angry judgment debtor phoned the enforcer and cursed and screamed. A day after that, the Sheriff called, because the judgment debtor had paid the Sheriff, and further showed their “class”, by paying with cash in a paper bag, with dog poop at the bottom of the bag.

A prerequisite for any pet or animal levy and/or turnover order attempt, is cooperation from your local Sheriff department. Some Sheriffs will not support this kind of creative levy. Mr. Walter Steinmann, the most respected judgment enforcer, with more experience than anyone else; is one of the first to levy a debtor’s pet. His judgment debtor, after seeing their pet being put into a carrier by a veterinarian, under supervision of the Sheriff, called him “Mr. Meany”, and paid off the judgment, so Mr. Meany become a fond nickname that stuck, for Walter Steinmann.

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