What are your rights when losing a pet?

Aug 27, 2019 | Tips and Tricks

I first started researching the emotional toll it takes on a pet when you give it up simply because you do not want it.  There have been people in my life who have adopted an animal because they thought it was a good idea at the time only to turn around and give it up because it wasn’t “working out” for them.  From lizards, to birds, to cats to dogs, I’ve seen them come and go which broke my heart every time.  One minute they would arrive and the next they would be gone to a home this person had no idea if it was a good fit or not.  “Well, I found them on Craigslist and she seemed really nice”, I would hear them say which would go through me like a knife.  

Researching this topic led me to an article on what your rights are if you have lost a pet.  I found it interesting and want to share it with you.  I recently had our neighbors dog come into our yard and at first had no idea who this dog belonged to.  Because they just moved in, I did not recognize this beautiful Irish Setter but when it ran from me and onto their patio and they opened the door to let it in, I realized it had a home.  Every state has different rules and I wonder if they realize what would happen if their dog ran away and never came back????

Every pet owner knows that a pet is a treasured member of the family, but pets are considered property under the law (as of this writing). No one may maliciously harm or steal your pet without facing legal action. Your rights as a pet owner also apply if your dog is lost and picked up by local authorities. Here are some laws you should know in case your pet is lost:  Found at this website:  ​https://www.homeagain.com/articles/your-rights-when-losing-a-pet.html
  1. A loose dog or cat may be legally seized or impounded by local animal authorities, especially if the animal is without identification tags. In most states, an animal found with no tags is considered “abandoned property” and becomes property of the state.
  2. A dog can be impounded in some states if it not licensed, if it’s considered an immediate threat to public safety, or if it’s harassing livestock or wildlife.
  3. In some states, animal authorities can impound an unlicensed dog for 48 hours or longer before allowing the owner to retrieve him.
  4. If your dog is loose and animal control officers cannot seize him, some states give the officers the right to destroy the animal on the spot. In some states, the officers are actually fined if they don’t comply with this law.
  5. When a dog is seized and brought to animal control, he may have five days or less to be retrieved by his owner before the shelter destroys him. Luckily, many rescue groups and no-kill shelters scan state-run shelters for adoptable dogs and will try to save them.
  6. Some states acknowledge that a loose dog might be a hunting dog that has wandered off from his pack and will give this dog special consideration.
  1. If your dog is wearing identification when it is found, the way the state-run shelter will contact you varies. Often, you will receive a registered letter stating that you should pick up your dog within a specified time or he will be sold or destroyed.
    Some states are not required to notify owners and can destroy the animal without notification in less than three days.
  2. When a private person finds your lost pet, under the law in some states the finder must care for the pet humanely and try to find the pet’s owner within 48 hours.
  3. If a loose dog chases a person, the dog may be impounded and the owner may find himself in court in some states.
  4. The fines for reclaiming un-neutered/un-spayed dogs are higher than for fixed animals.
  5. Laws in some states allow an owner to reclaim an impounded animal for free if it has a microchip.
  6. Under the law in some states, it is a felony to steal a pet or knowingly buy a stolen pet. If a police officer is reluctant to take down a complaint for the theft of a pet, remind him or her that pets are property under the law and that pet thieves are subject to the same penalties.
There is a wealth of information out there and I thought this was another good website to share because it lists questions like what to do if you see your lost pet at a new house on the other side of town.  Check out this website (Animal Legal & Historical Center):  https://www.animallaw.info/intro/lost-dogs

I can’t imagine having to go through trying to get Jake and Maggie back if we would ever lose them.  This is why they are never in the yard without us.  We either have them on a leash or are both around them at all times making sure they are within site, training them, or just playing in the yard.  

Both Jake and Maggie are microchipped and have two forms of identification on each of their collars.  Since we live in a small neighborhood with only 9 houses, I made sure the homeowners association knows that we have two labradors one chocolate named Jake and one black named Maggie.  See my post on microchipping here.

It might be a good idea that if you live in a neighborhood with a homeowners association, to let the board know that you have animals living in your home with their name, breed, age, and telephone number, etc.  This way they can give a detailed description to post in their next newsletter or email blast to all of the neighbors.  Hopefully your neighbors will recognize your pet if lost and will call you.

I promised I would include baby pictures of Maggie in my next Two Adorable Labs post.  I hope you enjoyed them as much as I do.  I can’t believe the pups are 2 years old now.  They are 8 weeks old in these pictures and I feel like they were this small for only 1 day!  

Hope you enjoyed this post.

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