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Dog Ownership Issues

› Dog Ownership Issues

Do you have any idea how little there is to protect dog ownership rights? Do you know what steps to take to have the best chance to prove ownership of your dog?. 


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The Mighty Microchip

Many of us, including myself, felt that microchip equaled proof of ownership. That is not the case. In many states, there is no legal proof other than a removable county license tag on a collar.  Without that collar, anyone can claim your dog. And as we all know, dogs are great at getting out of collars.

Several microchip companies have been called to verify their position. They state that they are a recovery service and the chip is NOT for proof of dog ownership. Splitting hairs semantically, but that is their position. 

So WHY Microchip? 

Because while not “legal” in the technical sense, it gives the owner another piece of documentation that along with other information could tip the scales in favor of an owner getting their dog back.

A change I strongly recommend is that when a dog is microchipped, the vet or breeder requires the registration be filled out at the time of implant. Have the vet’s staff or breeder register the dog for the owner. Or, at the very least educate the clients on the importance of this step to be done as soon as they return home.

Obviously this info will also be entered into your vet record. In addition, I would strongly recommend that any new dog brought to a vet practice be scanned to verify if there is a microchip or not and make sure that number isn’t registered to another party. Don’t assume anything.

Stolen dogs are being re-sold by "retail rescues" and individuals looking for a quick buck all the time.

IT IS CRUCIAL to add as many pieces of documentation to connect the owner and the dog. After much thought, the best way I can figure to connect the dog to owner is as follows: 

  1. Dog is microchipped
  2. The microchip is registered to the owner (with a second contact and the vet name and number) for recovery purposes only. IF your particular brand of microchip allows free text “notes” in the registration, that would be the best place to put the county license tag number. Remember you need to update that number each time you get a new tag for the year. 
  3. You can then register the dog with AKC including the microchip number. 

Then there is a direct paper trail. So if your dog is lost, you have 

  1. A photo ID such as driver’s license proving who you are,
  2. The AKC registration shows your name as owner of a particular dog with an original microchip number, (and perhaps a county tag #) 
  3. The microchip number is scanned on the dog and found to have your name and contact info, tag # (in case the dog is still wearing his collar) and will also match the AKC registration which has your name as owner. 

Additional Precautions:

Have a photo of you AND your dog in your files, on any vet client website, or in your vet hard copy file. Just having a photo of the dog alone isn’t as strong a position as if you are also there.

Animal Control

It is also imperative that owners realize they have merely DAYS to find their dog before it is up for grabs or sent to a rescue. DO NOT rely on sending out fliers and making telephone calls. 

Many Animal Control people may mis-label your dog the wrong breed. So if you call asking if there were any black and white shelties turned in they may say “no” thinking that a sheltie was a border collie. TAKE NOTHING FOR GRANTED. Go look yourself.

Rescue Me!

Most of us, again me included, used to feel that rescues were angels walking the earth saving poor strays and unwanted dogs from death, finding good and loving homes and returning lost dogs to their grateful, rightful ownersThis unfortunately, is no longer the case and the problem has grown significantly as we all went about our business, unaware of the change.

While I will state unequivocally, there are still some good rescues out there, many rescues are not. Some are outright animal rights extremists. Some are just out to make an easy buck. They have no problem trampling your dog ownership rights.

And somewhere in this soup of disgusting behavior are the few good rescues still trying desperately to make a difference.  While these legitimate rescues may cry “foul” for the unjust stereotype, it is no more than serious hobby breeders have had to endure for years. So my empathy goes only so far in this situation. 

Those that are truly ethical will step up their game and step up their documentation of their operations.

The point I am trying to make is that, just like people have screamed to check out a dog breeder before buying from them, you now need to take the same due diligence with rescues. Again I say, DO NOT ASSUME anything.

I implore you to look at rescues as individual entities that may or may not have a dog’s best interests at heart. I personally will no longer support the work a rescue is doing without first-hand knowledge of their operations.  If you search the internet or talk to people who have tried to adopt, there is a new, less owner-friendly environment that is growing.

I have first-hand accounts of: 

  • unreasonable requirements in order to adopt, (as in, the dog must wear booties to go outside, only a specific dog food may be fed for the lifetime of the dog, you are not allowed to take the dog camping, not allowed to use it for herding, etc)
  • contracts that state while the person may be adopting a dog they are not the actual owners nor will they ever be.
  • contracts stating the rescue has the right to enter your house at any time, unannounced, without a warrant, to “inspect” the living arrangements and to take the dog away if they so choose without any justification.
  • they may inspect vet records of previous pets as part of the application process. 
  • determine a person unsuited for ownership without telling the applicants the real reason they are denied.

Those are just the more respectable rescues. Further down the ethical scale are those that: 

  • “flip” dogs for profit without regard for the dog’s health before selling
  • Import truckloads of dogs from other states or other countries to feed the false scenario of the “poor rescue needs a home”. One rescue had approximately 50 dogs per week sent to her. In 2006, CDC reported 287,000 dogs were imported from outside the USA and brought into “rescue”. (edit: as of 2017, it is estimated that 1 MILLION dogs are imported into the USA and sold as "rescues")

In the news there was a rescue sending a truckload of dogs from Georgia up to Michigan rescues for re-homing. How many dogs in that truck could have owners still looking for them? How many dog owners would think to look in Michigan rescue websites for the dog they lost in Georgia? How many had microchips not scanned?

Paranoid? I think not.

How I Became An Assertive Dog Ownership Advocate

How did I come to write this? Let’s look at the case now in the courts.

Veronica Covatch v. Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue:

Here are the particulars. I encourage you to do your own internet search.

  1. A dog (named Piper), owned and bred by Veronica Covatch of Pennsylvania was in Ohio and escaped a fenced in backyard in Franklin County on the Thursday before the three day Easter holiday weekend. 
  2. Piper was picked up by Animal Control that evening and brought to the shelter. 
  3. The dog did not have a collar on. 
  4. The dog was scanned and found to have microchip
  5. The Animal Control called the microchip company to find the chip did not have a first contact name and phone number to call, but they did have the name of the vet that implanted the chip.
  6. The vet was called, but the Animal Control was told the office was closed and the owner information could be retrieved on Monday when files could be reviewed.
  7. According to the Ohio Animal Control regulations a dog is considered a stray if there isn’t a county tag on a collar. Per state regulation, they are required to hold the dog only 3 days after which they may dispose of the dog. 
  8. Piper was held over Easter Weekend from Thursday evening thru Monday morning when at approximately 11:40 AM the dog was turned over to the local Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue (COSR) without any further calls to the vet for owner information. 
  9. Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue did not place any calls to the vet to find the owner.
  10. Within 24 hours of release to the “rescue”, the breeder / owner was able to find out where Piper was being held and called COSR (rescue). After multiple attempts with no response, after posting Pipers photo and owner information on the rescue’s website, the rescue finally responded saying several people had called to claim the dog and she needed time to decide who the owner was.

To prove ownership of the dog, the breeder/owner supplied: 

  • AKC registration papers, 
  • the affidavit from the vet stating he implanted the microchip into Piper 
  • offered to DNA test the sire, the dam and the dog in question to show she was related 
  • offered to pay all expenses incurred for the dog while in rescue. 

The rescue over time, gave a series of reasons why the dog would not be returned. The rescue's rationale: 

  • Not enough proof of ownership
  • The breeder was not a fit owner 
  • The rescue person had a burglary at her home which she blamed on the breeder and / or associates and she demanded the breeder solve the case before returning the dog, (The case has been closed as there was insufficient evidence to substantiate an actual burglary)
  • People on the internet were saying bad things about her and cyber-bullying her
  • The breeder was a greedy person only wanting the dog for breeding purposes. (the dog was 6 years old and had never had a litter of puppies to date).
  • The Animal Control gave the dog to her, she owns it, so it was hers to sell as she chose. 
  • A letter from the rescue's attorney, placed on the Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue website stated that applications for adoption of Piper were being accepted as long as it was not from anyone related to the burglary or the cyber-bullying. 

What makes this all the more ludicrous is that according to the regulations in Ohio, the only thing the breeder /owner would have needed to claim her dog at the shelter was to be over the age of 18, have $40 plus $20 /night boarding fee, obtain a new license and a rabies shot before the dog leaves.

Now What?

Negotiations failed and a court date was set for December 11, 2014. 

The breeder has already placed a $10,000 bond to get the dog back while the case goes to court, but the “rescue” had the legal right to counter that with a $10,000 bond of her own, which she did, thereby keeping the dog in her possession. The rescue’s bond, unlike the breeder’s bond was obtained for $155 through a bondsman. 

Final Thoughts

It is obvious that dog ownership is sadly in need of revision and clarification as to who has what rights, so both ethical rescues and dog owners know how to proceed when a dog is lost and found. 

Until the laws change or the Animal Rights Terrorists rid the world of all domestic animals, you have a situation you need to look at. Do whatever you can to ensure proof of dog ownership now.

I truly hope you will deal with it now, before you realize that your dog isn’t “found”, isn’t “sheltered”, isn’t “rescued”, it’s just... plain... gone.  

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