OK, I'll chip in and contribute ours: My SO is an emergency room veterinarian who sees some crazy stuff. Two years ago, in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, a guy comes in with a Sphynx (a hairless cat) that has a severely broken femur, 90-degree break on the X-ray. According to the owner, the cat ran out the front door and was hit by a car. It's a little unusual story; this is December, and hairless cats in Chicago rarely race into the street. Plus, the cat has no signs of road rash from skidding on pavement after an impact. SO can't reset the bone manually and tells the owner that the cat needs surgery to insert a plate in his leg. Costs maybe $3K. "Too much," the client says. SO suggests amputating the cat's leg, which is only several hundred dollars. No go again. SO then refers him to a low-cost clinic. Client declines again, ardently insisting he wants his animal euthanized.
The plot thickens somewhat when SO offers him the option of opening Care Credit (this is a credit card for medical or vet care, allowing him to pay in installments if money is tight). The client reveals he's married and claims his wife in on safari in Africa. It seems money isn't much of an issue to these folks, but the guy doesn't want to pay anything to repair his easily-fixable cat. All he wants is to put him to sleep before the wife comes home. SO had already noticed that the injury (and lack of road rash) matches the result of the cat being kicked, possibly by the client who now wants the cat dead*.
The thing is, this is a really sweet kitty. Despite being in significant pain, he's purring and nuzzling anyone who gets in range. So makes one more try to save his life: since this is an exotic pet that will have no trouble being adopted, she offers to have the guy relinquish his rights to the cat. In about two seconds, the guy signs the cat over and is out the door, and my SO finds herself with a sweet, broken-legged cat. I learn of this at 7 AM the next morning, when SO pokes me awake and informs me we have a new guest living in a crate in our second bedroom.
Flash forward three months. We'd paid an orthopedic surgeon to patch the cat back together and he's almost totally recovered. As you might be able to guess, we've bonded with the cat during his convalescence; the plan to find someone else to adopt him is pretty much in the bin at this point - Hamlet is now the newest member of our family.
You know what happens next: At some point, the client's wife returned from Africa and was (understandably) distraught at the absence of her pet. Who knows what the husband told her, but after several months the story of the missing cat finds its way to the couples normal (non-emergency) veterinarian. This vet tells the couple he'll get their cat back and calls the ER, claiming that the case was mishandled and that he should have been consulted (in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, not bloody likely). Here's the thing: this guy runs a decent-sized practice in the city and refers a good bit of business to the emergency hospital. Management of the hospital reviews the case and finds a well-documented record of what happened. Even so, management promises that they'll get my SO to return the cat immediately. Cue our ringing phone. A truncated version of the conversation that followed:
ER: We need you to return the cat.
ER: It's their pet.
Us: Not anymore - the guy signed him over. Now he wants it back... after several months?
ER: We need to keep the business of (angry vet).
Us: I don't think you understand - the cat would be dead if we hadn't stepped in. We paid to bring the cat back to health.
ER: We get it; in fact, we'll pay for the treatment if you return the cat.
Us: He signed it over legally.
ER: We already promised (angry vet) you'd return the cat.
Us: You shouldn't have done that, eh?
ER: You need to return this cat. If you don't, you're risking your job.
Like many responsible adults, SO had never been fired and took the threat very seriously. I, on the other hand, was pissed off. The client had readily signed over the cat - he'd even returned later to drop off some sweaters for him, so there wasn't some last-second change of heart. Moreover, they'd waited months to ask. A cynical man might say that they did this deliberately, to give us time to fix their pet before asking for its return. The ER management was also on my shit list - they were willing to override their own employee - not to mention go into their own pocket - to keep a referrer who was making unreasonable demands - happy. That was hard to respect. I almost wanted them to fire my SO so she wouldn't have to work with such spineless cowards.
I stepped in and told the ER's director that, as one of the cat's co-owners, I wasn't willing to return the cat. If they wanted to try, go ahead and sue me. They reminded me that I was putting SO's job at risk. This was the equivalent of them folding their hand; in addition to having sufficient savings to last a couple of decades, vets are in very high demand; she'd have another gig in a day or two. We had the pleasure of telling them to pound sand. To be honest, I thought it would be more satisfying to watch the medical director bluster and fold, but the guy was too nice - he was just doing what his corporate overlords demanded. It was kind of sad, watching his half-hearted efforts. Naturally, nothing came of it - my SO continued working there and the newest member of our family continued rubbing his face against my stubble whenever he could.
Picture of outcome attached (I hope).
*I'm not for sure saying the animal was abused, but it's a definite possibility, according to SO.