Humane Law Forum: "Do Not Adopt"? More Like "Do Not Forward"
The legal hazards of “do not adopt” lists
People in animal welfare often feel an overwhelming desire to protect innocent animals from harm. And an e-mail like this can be hard to resist forwarding: What if it’s true? What if, right this minute, the evil John Jones is at the front counter of an animal shelter, trying to adopt an animal he may hurt? What if forwarding this e-mail could stop that?
I frequently receive e-mails like the one above from organizations and individuals posting DNAs—Do Not Adopt recommendations. They also turn up on shelter and rescue listservs. Almost always, the sender is forwarding an e-mail that originated with someone else. So, the question is, can you be liable for creating a message like this? What about for forwarding it?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Under some circumstances, the subject of the e-mail can sue.