In the alpaca industry, many people board their alpacas. Unfortunately, from time to time, disputes do arise between parties, usually due to nonpayment of boarding fees. AOA often becomes involved in these disputes when a party who has not been paid for boarding services requests the transfer of a registration into their name. Unfortunately, AOA cannot simply process such a transfer upon request.
If you are involved in a boarding fee dispute, prior to contacting AOA you should try to find a solution that is acceptable to all involved so that the ownership of the alpaca will not be an issue. However, if you cannot achieve a resolution, you may need to utilize the laws in your state which are designed to help in situations such as these. As with any business relationship, having a clearly defined contract that specifies all terms including what happens in the event of nonpayment is very important.
Your first step is to research the laws in your state, and possibly retain an attorney. The laws in many states provide that if an animal’s owner is not current on a boarding bill, the party boarding the animal is entitled to retain possession of the animal until the bill is paid in full. No court proceedings are required before this step is taken—just give notice to the alpaca’s owner that possession of the alpaca will not be relinquished until the bill is paid. It may be prudent to insist that payment be made in cash, by certified check, or money order if you are concerned the animal’s owner will write a bad check or stop payment on the check after retrieving the animal.
If the alpaca’s owner will not or cannot pay the bill, and a resolution cannot be reached, you are not permitted to simply sell the animal and apply the proceeds to the boarding bill. You will need to follow the legal proceedings required under the laws of your state, which usually involve conducting a public sale. These proceedings can be complicated and you may need to hire a local attorney to assist with the process. You will also need to follow the legal process required by your state if the alpaca’s owner simply abandons an animal in your care.
Only after you have followed the required legal process, will AOA then be able to work with you to get the registration transferred into your name so that you can sell the alpaca or add it to your herd. In order to transfer a registration into your name when you have obtained ownership through the foreclosure of an agistor’s lien or similar process, AOA will typically require a legal opinion letter from your attorney stating that the required legal process was followed and that you now have legal ownership of the alpaca.
Additionally, you will be asked to pay a fee, as defined on the AOA Fee Schedule, for the AOA attorney to review your documents to be certain that AOA should make the transfer. Once your documents have been accepted, the transfer will be completed in accordance with the regular transfer procedures.