“How Can You Protect Your Pet”
So you have a furry friend and life is great. From the moment you adopted your dog from the local shelter or rescue group your family gained another member. As your family grows and memories are etched in your mind, the idea of no longer having your pet can be devastating. We all know that as life progresses your death and your pet’s death are inevitable, but what happens if your pet gets lost or someone else claims her as his pet. What do you do?
Someone Takes Your Pet
So here is the situation: You have a pet and someone takes her and claims her as his own.
There are two ways to approach this situation. First, you can call the police and they will file a police report of the situation and that report will be sent to the State Attorneys Office to determine if there is a valid case of larceny. If you do not want to take the criminal route, you can try and approach the situation in civil court. Both options are discussed below.
Going the criminal route will have certain positive aspects but there can be some pitfalls. The criminal route may take several months to complete, especially with all of the current budget cuts and assistant state attorneys being overworked. In the meantime, your pet would be under the control of someone else. Furthermore, under the criminal route the state would have to prove the elements of the crime of larceny beyond a reasonable doubt (if it gets to trial). If it goes that far, which more than likely it may not, you should be able to get your pet back if all elements are proven. The control you have under the criminal route is limited because the action and the handling of the case will be in the control of the assistant state attorney.
The second way to approach the situation is through civil court. Under the civil court system proof is on the plaintiff, the person bringing the case, and it has to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. This means the judge has to believe the plaintiff a little bit more than the defendant, which equates to believing the plaintiff 51% more than the defendant. The problem with this situation that many pet owners run into is finding an attorney and financing the representation. The time that it would take to work this case may not be worth it for many attorneys and if there is an attorney willing to take the case on it is often not cost effective. However, there is always the option of filing the claim and navigating through the system yourself, which may be difficult and ultimately not achieve the desired goal.
Your Proof: Microchip
As soon as you adopt your pet you should have your animal micro-chipped. Essentially a microchip is a very small chip like the size a grain of rice placed on your pets shoulder and it can be read through a scanner machine. A microchip can be done at your local veterinary office or the local shelter and once it is done the chip has to be registered with the owner’s information. Generally the price to complete the chip is less than $100 and sometime it can be done for little or no money at all, but you have to do your research in your local area. It is very important to microchip your pet. If your pet ever gets lost the information on the chip can assist in proving that your pet belongs to you, or if your pet is found you can be reached if your animal is taken to a local shelter or veterinary office because their first step is checking for a microchip. ( For more information on micro-chipping: http://www.avma.org/issues/microchipping/microchipping_faq.asp) Also, don’t forget to update your information as it changes so the people will have notice that your pet belongs to you and accurate information on how to contact you should your pet become lost. (prime example: http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20110623/NEWS01/106230325/1006/rss01/Thanks-microchip-missing-dog-tale-has-happy-ending-Melbourne)
Your Proof: Pictures / Video / Vet Bills
I know my wife and I are not the only ones who have tons of pictures and video of our dog. We also have lots of vet bills. We have pictures with our dog and her unique features (her white strip on her chest, her glossy eye, gray face, etc. ) Every dog is unique; for example, our dog is on several medications for health problems, which have been documented through the veterinarian. All the bills we get from the veterinarian we keep in her folder.
All of this information will help prove that our dog “Karma” is our dog and belongs to us.
Bringing a pet into your life can be a life changing experience for your pet and your family. However, it is your responsibility as the pet owner to do everything you can to protect your pet and your interest.