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(Advance apologies for the long post)

My wife and I had been talking about getting a dog for a while, but were still a bit undecided. We had decided that if we did get a god it would either be a Lab or a Golden, and we agreed that we would keep looking at the shelter from time to time, and if the perfect dog showed up we would make an ultimate decision at that point.

One day we were at the shelter and saw a beautiful young male Golden that was very sweet and seemed like just the dog we had been looking for. According to the shelter, it had an owner who had been contacted, and if they didn't come to pick him up within 10 days he would go to auction. We came by the shelter every couple days, and one day he wasn't there, his owners had picked him up (after about 7 days). We were a little disappointed, but figured that was that and fell back into the routine of checking the shelter occasionally.

A few weeks later, we were driving down a (very busy) street near our house and saw a Golden running in the middle of the street. We immediately stopped the car, jumped out and opened the back door, and he jumped right in. He had a collar on, but no tags. We discussed what we should do, and initially decided to take him back to our house (as it was evening and the shelter was closed), and decide on our next move in the morning. The next day we drove all over the area where we had found him looking for lost dog signs, and couldn't find anything. We considered keeping him and looking for signs while we had him, but realized that we weren't certain that his owners lived in the area we found him in, and that there was a chance that he was microchipped. We decided to take him to the shelter to see if they could get him back to his family.

That evening we took him to the shelter, and put our names in as having 'first rights' to him if the owners didn't claim him. There is a 10 day waiting period if a dog is identified as having an owner. When they scanned him for a chip, there was a chip and they said that they would contact the owner. They also mentioned that he had been there (the shelter) a few weeks prior. It turned out that this was the same dog that we had seen earlier, what a coincidence.

The shelter left a message for the owner, and four days later he called back and told them he would be in that evening to pick him up. However, he didn't show up. Per the shelter's rules, this constituted contact with the owner, so the 10 day period was reset. In the mean time, we came to visit him every day, hoping that he might be ours soon. After he had been in the shelter a total of 12 days, we decided that even if the owners came to pick him up, it seemed as though they may not be that interested in keeping him, and may just be getting him because the shelter was calling and they felt guilty.

I had an idea to get a tag made with our phone number on it and a note that said "Pleas call us" and attach it to his collar (while he was still at the shelter). My thought was that if his owners did pick him up, hopefully they would see the tag and call us to see what it was about, at which point we could say something along the lines of "If he's to much work for you (or you want to get rid of him for any other reason), we would be more than happy to take him".

With just one day left at the shelter before his owners forfeited him and he became our dog, he was picked up by his owners. We waited anxiously to see if they were going to call us, and about a day later or phone rand from a number we didn't recognize. When we answered it, the person on the other end told us that he had found our dog running around in the street near his house, and he had gotten him into his yard and was holding onto him until we could come pick him up. We realized that his real owner hadn't noticed the tag, and that he had gotten out again with our tag still on him. We thanked the caller, got his address and went and picked up the dog.

At this point we decided not to bring him back to the shelter (where he likely would have sat for close to two weeks), and instead to keep him at our house and look for lost dog signs. It's now been over a month and there hasn't been a single sign in the area where his owners live. Based on the lack of a sign, the length of time he spent at the shelter (repeatedly), and the lack of tags even though he was obviously getting out, it really doesn't seem as though his old owners are that interested in getting him back. Also, our fear is that even if we were to get him back to them, he would only get out again, and it is only a matter of luck that he hasn't been hit by a car already (as he's been in the middle of the street every time he's been found).

So we've decided to keep him, and so far he's becoming a very good dog (a few issues, most of which probably stem from being stuck in the shelter for weeks and not getting attention, and a lack of training, all of which we're working through). I'm sure that some people will read this and think that the only right thing to do is to get him back to his old owners, but I'm hoping that most people will view this story in a practical light and see that it's in his best interest to stay where he is (with us).

However, I'd love some advice from anyone on one issue, the chip. We know that he's microchipped, and that the chip is registered to someone other than us. We have a tag with our name and number on him, and are pretty sure that even if he were to somehow get out that we would get called before anyone even bothered to scan him for a chip (in talking to the shelter, they told us that they don't bother looking for a chip if there's a tag, and I'd think most people would just call the number on a tag before even bringing him to a shelter in the first place anyway) however, it would be very nice for our peace of mind to know that if he ever were scanned that he wouldn't end up going back to someone else. I'm not sure if avid has any process in place for handling a situation like ours, but I'm guessing that from their perspective he's basically just a stolen dog. Would finding a sympathetic vet help (would a vet be likely to be able to change the ownership information without the currently registered owners being notified)? Anyone have any other thoughts or ideas?

I have a couple other questions, but will open new posts for them in the appropriate forums.

Thanks,

Marc
 

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First off, welcome to the forum Marc! :)

While I think it's great that you guys are taking care of and loving this dog...I dunno...I just don't feel like it's right to keep him. I know his owners aren't the best, but they obviously cared enough to eventually come get him. I mean, what if they had kids that adored this dog?

Have you thought about posting an ad on Craigslist and posting your own found dog ads in lieu of taking him to the shelter? That way, you could at least speak to the owners face to face if they were to contact you. You could tell them your concerns and hope they would leave the dog with you.

As far as registering the microchip, I'm pretty sure it has to be done through Avid.
 

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Well, I think, legally speaking, that you've stolen the dog, so you may have to get a vet to remove the chip and implant another if you're really interested in keeping him. I'm not sure if an ethical vet would knowingly participate in that.

Also, you don't know what the story is with these people. It looks like they don't care for the dog, but what if there are issues you don't know about? I'd be very uncomfortable keeping the dog in the same situation.
 

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Loving goldens since '95
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Hi Marc,

It's a pretty tough situation you're in... on one side, it sounds like the owners don't really put enough effort into trying to keep him safe, and keeping him out of the shelter. But on the other hand, you're keeping something that you know is not yours, without the owner's permission. Is there anyway that the shelter could give you the owners phone number or address of the dog for you to talk to the owners in person?
 

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Call the owner. Ask if you can keep the dog. You can re-register the chip with you as the owner, but get permission first. You are between a rock and a hard place.
 

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& Romeo's mom
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Any owner who'd leave their dog in a shelter for 10 days doesn't care much about their dog. You didn't say anything about the condition of the dog. Is he healthy looking, no fleas, etc? It sounds to me like the owners don't care much about the dog considering he is found in traffic so often. I think I'd keep him. Or one of these days, he may get hit.
 

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I agree that, from the outside looking in, it really sounds like his owners didn't care too much for him and probably arent the most responsible dog owners considering how many times he has gotten loose and how long they let him sit in the shelter before going to get him, but I still think that the ethical thing to do would be to contact the owners and see if you can find out what is going on. Maybe there is a reason why he keeps getting loose. Maybe they really have tried to prevent it from happening. I mean, they did go as far as to get the dog microchipped, so that says something. It could even be that they have little kids who accidentally leave a door or gate open and let him out of the house. Who knows? The only way to find out is to call and speak with the owners yourself. If they don't seem to be too interested in the dog or seem fed up with him constantly getting loose, then tell them that you and your wife are more than happy to keep him and give him a good home. I really think it's wrong just to keep him without even trying to communicate with the owners first and at least try to find out why he kept getting loose. He technically still is their dog and you need to at least attempt to get in touch with them and get their permission to keep him.
 

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Momma to angel Cody
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I would keep the dog. This young dog has been in the shelter twice for long periods of time, despite the owner being called. The dog has been found in traffic, an accident waiting to happen. I would call Avid and find out what they do in such a situaton. For me, the bottom line is always, without equivocation, the safety and health of the dog. His owners have made it clear by their actions that his safety isn't paramount on their priority list if he's still getting out to roam.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The problem here is that the shelter cannot provide us with the owner's contact information. That was our first thought as well, but their policy doesn't allow it. To be clear, our original intention was to get the dog back to his owners, and it's only after everything that's happened since that keeping him has become a serious consideration. My biggest concern is that the odds seem very good that if he goes back to his owners he'll be hit. The street that he's been found playing in the middle of (more than once) is a six lane street with an average speed of probably about 60mph. The odds of him surviving another time in that situation don't seem to great, and I can't imagine how I'd feel if I managed to track down his owners, got him back to them, and saw him dead in the street a couple days later.

Additionally, while it's true I don't know all of the details of the owners situation, the fact that they never put a tag on him combined with the knowledge that four of the seven weeks leading up to him coming to our house were spent locked in a shelter while his owners knew where he was makes it hard to give them the benefit of the doubt here.

I do like the idea of a craigslist ad and may go that route to at least make an attempt to get in touch with them and explain my concerns, etc. However, the above concerns still apply, if they do contact me and want him back the situation would be a lot less grey (I'd have to give him back), but the likelyhood of him getting hurt wouldn't seem any less.

As for his physical condition, he was in decent shape, reasonably healthy with a few (very) minor issues. His skin is a little flaky and he seems a little itchy (we just switched him to taste of the wild, so I'm hoping this will clear up), but that doesn't really indicate neglect to me. His fur was pretty matted and he had some nasty tangles under his ears, etc but that was from being in the shelter as when we first found him his coat was in good shape. His weight is good so I'm pretty sure he was at least being fed well, and he has a good temeprment so I don't think that he was being treated badly. He has some speration anxiety, and really doesn't like it when we leave for work in the morning, but I'm thinking that comes as much from being a Golden as anything else.
 

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Missing Selka So Much
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In my gut, it sounds like the owners are irresponsible and don't care about this dog one bit or they wouldn't leave him at the pound for 12 days nor would he be out in traffic numerous times! and these are only the times you are aware of! It is a miracle he wasn't killed! I think their chances with this dog are up. I don't care what their reasons are.

Legally I don't know where you stand. I don't know if you find a dog, legally what steps you have to take before you consider him yours. If you had adopted him through the shelter and they didn't check for microchips, how would you have had to deal with the microchip?

You probably don't have a vet since you didn't have a dog. I'd talk to my vet about the microchip issue. You are between a rock and hard place with the chip.
What are the chances he would ever get loose from your house? if you are very responsible owners he probably won't and he has your tags. But when you take him to the vet , they may find his chip. What then?

I really empathize because my loyalty is always with the dog.
 

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Simon & Shadow's Mom
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Perhaps, instead of waiting for "lost dog" posters, you could make up some "found dog" posters.

Since you seem to know the general neighborhood, it would be easy to do.

I understand your dilemma, and I'd be the same way, but it really does kind of seem like stealing, even if the pup is in a much happier place.

I like the Craigslist idea too.

Can you contact the humane society and tell them you'll hold the dog while they contact the owners, rather than sending him there? (I'm not sure how fostering works-if you have to be "approved" by the humane society), but I would THINK that if someone were willing to care for a dog in the meantime, they'd be happy about that?
 

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Mom to Bailey & Burgundy
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In my opinion, you should keep the dog. I know some on here are saying that you don't know the situation with the owners, or how the dog keeps getting out...but all that aside, they were contacted and told that their dog was in a shelter, and they took over a WEEK to go get him??? They do not care about that dog. OR - they care about him, but don't have the means/time/patience to care for him properly. If he goes back with them - he will get loose again, and most likely will be killed by a car. Who cares if the microchip says another person's name? If you keep a tag on him and keep an EYE on him most importantly - he probably won't even be scanned!

I would however, try to find a way to get the information off of that microchip to contact the owners, for your own peace of mind. Take him to a different vet perhaps? I know even our breeder has one of those scanner thingys - so the information can't be THAT impossible to get. You are doing the right thing, IMO.
 

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& Romeo's mom
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Keep the dog and don't feel guilty about it. You are going to feel a lot worse if you see the dog dead in traffic one day. From the sounds of the situation, the owners don't care and you are saving a life. As a dog owner, I cannot imagine leaving my dog in a pound for one night, let alone ten.
 

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Most chip companies allow you to directly contact them (as long as you know the chip number?) and they would give you the info for the owners on record. I do think you should contact them by some means. Certainly makes me rethink who I put as the emergency contact info on my puppies.
 

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I don't know what the laws are in your area. You may want to call animal control and ask. Around here, if someone finds an animal, by law they have to run a found ad for 5 days. After that, the animal is theirs to do with whatever they choose.

If that is a loophole, that may be a route to go. It sounds to me, from what you have posted, that these folks don't put much effort into finding or retrieving their dog. The shelter has had to call them each time. If you run an ad in the paper, you have a paper trail showing an attempt to find the owner, but the onus is on the owners to actually make an effort to look for the dog.

Thank you for caring for this boy. He is very lucky to have you and your wife as his guardian angels.
 

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Tracer, Rumor & Cady
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Do you know an attorney that you could ask some questions?
How long property has to be abandoned before it can be claimed as your own.
How much of a good faith effort has to be made to find the owner? Found posters and ad in the newspaper? 1 week? 2?
 

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I say put an add in the local paper or put up found dog poster with a contact number and see what happens. That way you should be able to talk to the owners if they care about the dog at all and you would have proof that you made an effort to find they if something comes up later. When and if they call you can tell them that if they are having a problem keeping the dog you might be willing to take him off their hands. If they want money you can negotiate over the boarding expenses but chances are they might just give him to you. This way you can get him legally and transfer the chip to you. Get a bill of sale or something in writing to back up your ownership. You are in kind of a bad spot as they may want him anyway but it seams they are not taking care of him. If you keep him and they find out latter then they want him back you might find yourself in a court battle to keep him and prove they abandoned him. It’s a bad situation for the poor pup and you are trying to do the right thing for him.
 

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One thing with microchip technology (at least with horses!) is how they get dated fast and scanners read different models. I wonder if you just had your vet miocrochip the dog with the absolute best, most up-to-date microchip, if time wouldnt make the old one obsolete? My vet wants to re-microchip Finn because of the kind he had, and give him the same one as my youngsters.

This is more of a question than an answer I realize.

I agree with Debles on the dog ownership question.
 

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Old Gold is the Best Gold
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Wow, that's a tough call. I'm inclined to think they don't care, or even if they do, they can't give him the right care. But, there are all kinds of sides to every story. What if the primary care taker was away, or sick, or even passed away. You just never know. I'd try to get in touch somehow, and then even offer them money for the dog.
 

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Maryland
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Will the shelter place you on the list as a contact for the dog if the owner calls?

Our shelter does that. In fact, we've kept a few dogs here (one over a weekend) when we've found them late afternoon. We called the shelter...gave OUR names/numbers to the shelter if the owner should call.

The owners would usually call that evening, after work, and then come get the dog. The shelter was happy that the dog wasn't THERE and was being cared for by us.

Or perhaps you could ask the shelter to call the owners and have the owner contact you.

If the owner doesn't make contact with you, then you have a record with the shelter that you've made the effort to get in contact with them.

Also...if the owners DO call, perhaps you could buy the dog from them? I'd discuss things with them well before letting them know where you live, or see the dog.

If they're willing to sell him...then write up a contract, meet somewhere, and take care of the purchase. Oh...and ask for their Vet records...or at least get the Vet's name (even if you just get it conversationally). You need to know what his medical history is.

Write all of the info you have on the dog down with dates, times, etc. - including last story about you being called because of the tag.

You might be able to get the shelter to work with you on keeping him.

I just think that if the owners know you have him...they'll never call. OR if they do, they'll happily sell him. It's obvious they don't care about him, or at the barest minimum, can't take care of him.
 
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