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Old 03-07-2011
chuck2858 chuck2858 is offline
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ok, here's a situation that has reared its ugly head recently. tell me how you would handle this.
i recently picked up a dog that was RAL in town. i impounded it, advertised it in the paper, on flyers, and on craigslist. i waited the 7 days required by my city codes after which time i adopted out the dog. i am a one man show at my pound and sometimes my paperwork on the adoption end falls short of exemplary. 3 days after the dog has been adopted out my chief gets a call from a woman claiming she saw her lost dog on a flyer and wants it back. i don't remember the name of the person i adopted the dog to and i don't believe i should be required to hunt down this person and take the dog back as my chief wants me to. i believe this would be unethical on my part. looking forward to hearing what you think of this situation.
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Old 03-07-2011
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1) If you did everything you could do (and it sounds like you did) you shouldn't have to worry about adopting the dog out. It would be nice if your ordinance said something definite like "At midnight of the 8th day after impoundment an animal shall be deemed property of the City. The City or its representative shall dispose of the animal as they see fit, including adoption, transfer to a rescue group or humane euthanasia." This would protect you in such a circumstance.

2) There is no excuse for not having the name/contact information of the adopter. For legal reasons, you should have an adoption contract that the new owner signs releasing your agency of any liability should the animal become sick and/or bite a person. It takes a whole 5 minutes to fill out. If you don't have a contract, you can find generic samples online. Check www.aspcapro.org, www.petfinder.com, and www.animalsheltering.org. You can also ask on here, I'm sure many of us have samples/templates we'd be willing to share.
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Old 03-07-2011
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If you waited the holding period then you absolutely do not need to give the dog back or provide the info of the adopter to the previous owner. Its her bad and after the holding period it should be the property of your dept.

You should definetly be more organized about keeping the info of adopters.
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Old 03-08-2011
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I have run into this and after the 7 day holding period, Sorry, it's the new owner's dog. I do call the new owner to ask if they wantto give it back. If they don't want to it's their dog.

Yes, you should have better bookkeeping habits.
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Old 03-08-2011
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Caninelaw Caninelaw is offline
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Once the hold period is over and its been adopted it belongs to the new owner. You can ask the new owner if they'd give it back but its their call. I have done this a few times and sometimes the new owner gives it back, sometimes they don't. You can't force them to give it back though.
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Old 03-08-2011
acofred acofred is offline
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I think we're pretty much all in agreement here; they have no right to the dog. And if they try to force you to give up the new owner's info via threats of "Freedom of Information Act", consult your city attorney before giving in.
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Old 03-08-2011
chuck2858 chuck2858 is offline
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i know my bookeeping needs work, i am working on improving it. my problem is not with the person that lost their dog. my problem is with my chief who wants me to go get the dog and bring it back from the person that adopted it. i think this is a serious breach of ethics and i should not have to do this. let me know what you think
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Old 03-08-2011
carrie_cat carrie_cat is offline
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If this is the first time that you have been in the situation, then I think you need to count yourself extremely lucky if it doesn't come back to haunt you. I'm little more than a one-person shop myself, here, but first, this is a living being you're putting and taking. Second, the former owner and the new owner are also not without feelings. Yes, sure, the former owner didn't look in the exact right places where you advertised, but hey, you are supposed to be doing a job, while the former owner was perhaps hugely distraught and panicky. Although technically and legally it may be true that neither owner can move against you, I also think that ethically, you've really got to make some changes fast, or you ARE likely to have this happen again. I don't think you are going to get two chances at this. Start keeping simple records. Find out where the first owner DID look, and be sure to include those locations in your advertising every time in the future. I think it's the least you can do.
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Old 03-08-2011
carrie_cat carrie_cat is offline
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I think maybe the chief is trying to encourage your public to respect and work with your agency; and I think you're undermining that. Which responsibilities and privileges do you want? Why do you think it's "unethical" to go and try to undo the adoption?? That's odd-sounding, to me.
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Old 03-08-2011
DRNEGRIN6 DRNEGRIN6 is offline
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This case reminds me of something that happened involving my hospital. A "new" client found a dog and brought him to my office to see if I could identify him. The client wanted to get the dog home if possible, but if no owner was found, she was wiling to keep the dog. She had notified the police and shelter regarding the found dog. They stated they did not have anyone looking for such a dog. I advised the client of the 7 day hold and that she could place posters/advertise regarding the found dog to see if someone came forward. (There was no chip in this dog or any other form of identification.)

A few days later, another client came in stating that their dog was not acting right. I could find nothing wrong with the dog that was obvious. The owner asked me if it was possible that the dog was depressed since their other dog had been missing for a few days. I looked at the chart and realized that the other dog matched the description of the dog I saw found by the other person. I asked this client if where he lived there was a drug store (the location that the dog was found). He said yes. I asked him if he had notified the police and the shelter that he was looking for his dog. He said yes, but no one had found a dog with that description.

I believed that the found dog was this owner's missing dog. I called the person holding the dog from my office (I had kept a copy of the finder's information including where the dog was found and a description of the dog). The two of them agreed to meet at the drugstore; the dog was his dog and the dog was reunited without incident. The finder did want the dog to go back to his real owner if the owner could be found.

In most cases, the person adopting from a shelter would want the animal returned to its proper owner if the owner could be found. I probably would have called the new owner in Chuck2858's case and told them what happened to see if they would be willing to give the dog back and allow them to take another dog in exchange for the return of the other dog. (This happened in another case where a firefighter kept a dog that he found, brought it to my office and I identified the dog by the microchip. The shelter that initially adopted out the dog was so pleased to find the dog that was lost they offered the person a new dog at no cost for returning the dog to the real owner.) If the adoption was recently done (meaning a few weeks past the date that the owner had to claim the dog), the new owner may not have bonded that closely with the dog yet and may be willing to exchange the dog for another one.

It really depends on the people involved as to whether or not they would be willing to return the dog.

That's my opinion as a vet. As an ACO.... the law is the law. The new adopter if the legal owner of the animal and it is their dog. If there is no policy at the shelter regarding what to do if an owner turns up after the hold period, then I would think it would be a decision of the department ("the powers that be") as to whether to even contact the new owners to see if they would be willing to return the dog.
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