If you rescued a dog from the street and decided to keep it, you cannot legally continue to keep the dog as your pet once the owner is found.
Cathy M. Rosenthal, who writes for San Antonio-Express News’ Animals Matter column, responded to this query from a person named Renee detailing her experience.
Renee wrote: “My friend found a 12-week-old pup in the street. I took the puppy to the vet to find out if she was chipped. She was not.” Renee shared that the dog was dirty, infested with fleas, and had some foot fungus that its two outer toenails had to be removed.
Renee decided to take care of the dog and even had it vaccinated and gave it antibiotics and other medicines per a veterinarian’s prescription to nurse it back to health. Renee told Rosenthal that they found the previous owner, and the latter said she bought the puppy off of Craiglist. The owner claimed she had the pup for two weeks and has not taken it to the veterinarian yet as it was only a few weeks old. The owner added that the dog was left in the backyard, and it got out of the fence.
Renee said, “I just am afraid for this little girl,” because the dog of such age “should not be left outside.” Now that the owner wants the dog back, Renee is hesitant to send it back to the woman. Because of Renee’s hesitance, the dog owner took to social media to claim that the former is a thief.
Renee even offered to buy the dog for the $450 that the owner spent when the pup was purchased. She said, “I have already spent $375 on vet bills, but the woman says I am just trying to scam her and has no intention of reimbursing me.” Renee does not care about being reimbursed anymore and asked Rosenthal what is the best thing to do as she is concerned for the health and well-being of the pup.
Rosenthal then responded, saying that it is but proper for the dog owner to reimburse Renee and receipts from the veterinarian would suffice as proof. However, Rosenthal said that Renee could not legally keep the dog if the woman has proof she is the actual owner.
Further, if the dog owner refuses to reimburse Renee for the dog’s medical care, it will become a civil matter. If Renee does not want to undergo legal process regarding the reimbursement, Rosenthal advised her to “return the dog and let animal control know the dog’s condition when you found her, so they can decide if they need to do a home check on the puppy.”