Finders keepers?

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If I were to find a dog, I know I have to report it to the dog warden, but am I able to keep it in my home until the owner is found? I think a dog would be happier in a home than in kennels and it really worries me that an animal could be destroyed after seven days if an owner is not found. What if they were on holiday for a fortnight? A week just doesn’t seem long enough to give them a chance!

Nik Oakley advises…

The seven-day rule has always been one of my bugbears. Throughout my time with DogLost, stories of dogs being rehomed before an owner had the opportunity to claim it was a sad occurrence, which happened a number of times a year. Sadly, with data protection, rescues can’t hand over a new owner’s details and the usual remedy is through the courts. You would have thought that the introduction of compulsory microchipping would have resolved the issue, but sadly it hasn’t.

Part of the problem is owners failing to keep chip details up to date when they move or change their telephone numbers. But the real weakness in the system is the failure to have compulsory scanning of animals and the lack of a central government-run database. As it stands, there are a handful of companies that a dog can be chipped to – dependent on who your chip implanter chooses to align themselves with.

The Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance (Sampa) believes that if veterinary practices took the time to check the microchip registration at a pet’s first consultation on the original database, this would go a long way in helping pet owners understand the complexity of the microchip system and enforce the need to keep everything up to date. Sampa is supporting the #FernsLaw petition to deal with the anomalies in the system, which took Fern six years to be reunited with her owner, and to act on a scam database that claims to hold the details of all chipped pets.

Sadly, not all animal welfare organisations support an extension to the seven-day rule. That sounds crazy until you consider that rehoming fees are a huge revenue stream for any rescue. In respect of keeping a lost dog until the owner has found, some dog wardens are happy to do that if they feel that the foster environment is right for the dog.

You are absolutely right that it’s less stressful for the dog and sometimes it becomes a permanent home for the dog if he isn’t claimed!

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