Finders Keepers – NOT!

16789750919_443bc9c64a_oThe other day I was walking along the sidewalk in downtown Milwaukee and I saw a bicycle leaning against a building. It was a bit sad looking – it’s paint was faded and chipped, it’s tires looked like they needed some air, and the seat had seen better days. Poor thing. I glanced around for an owner but saw no one. It had been abandoned. I decided to take it home and give it some love. I was going to give it the life it deserved! I was going to be a hero! I was going to be a bicycle rescuer! What a wonderful thing I was doing. I would be able to tell the story for years to come to my friends and family about the poor neglected, abandoned bicycle that I had saved.

I hope you see where I’m going with this. Of course I wouldn’t take the bicycle. That’s called STEALING. Bicycles are property. Cars are property. A wallet is property. Dogs are property. Why do people think that it is somehow okay to keep a dog that they have found?

We very seldom have dogs intentionally stolen (premeditated theft) in Wisconsin. But lately we have had several cases of lost dogs that have been picked up and kept by well-intentioned, but misinformed Good Samaritans. These are lost dogs who may have owners who are desperately looking for them. This is illegal. Let me say it again. Dogs are property. We have a very clear law that states how lost property must be handled in Wisconsin and how you must make every effort to find and return the property to its owner. The details are spelled out and I encourage you to read them.

As we work through these cases with Lost Dogs of Wisconsin we smile and delicately and diplomatically negotiate the return of these dogs (if we know where they are). But behind the scenes – my head is about to explode with the words “GET YOUR OWN DAMN DOG”. It isn’t like there’s not enough dogs in our shelters and rescues that need a good home.

I have two shy, sensitive dogs. They’re also very physically fit. They would only have to be lost a couple of days and I’m sure they would appear underfed and abused – cowering and thin. Would someone find them and assume I was a horrible owner and didn’t deserve them back? Would they keep them and call themselves heroes – not even trying to reunite them with me?

In the big picture – this is one of the reasons that I am really happy that dogs ARE property. This protects my rights as their owner. The law is on my side if my dogs are lost. Good Samaritans take note. We appreciate that you get the lost dog safely off the street and to a warm, dry place. If you feel that a dog is neglected or abused, contact a humane officer or police officer in your community. But do not think that you are doing anybody any favors by keeping a dog that is not legally yours.

Kathy Pobloskie, Lost Dogs of Wisconsin

(reprinted with permission from www.wisconsinwatchdog.blogspot.com)

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