Two cases involving legal ownership of missing dogs – one with a microchip and one without – have been settled this month. Although both dogs are now back in the arms of their original owners, their situations could have been resolved faster and without messy custody battles, had all the parties involved understood the importance and correct usage of pet microchips.
Rosemary, a tiny Chihuahua mix, went missing from her California home on April 4. A good Samaritan found her that same day and brought her to the local animal shelter. Since Rosemary did not have a microchip or identification tags, she was adopted to a new family after a 72-hour hold.
By the time her owner found out that Rosemary was at the shelter, she had already been legally adopted by someone else. Luckily, the new owner eventually decided to return her, but it was completely within her legal rights to keep the dog.
Had Rosemary been wearing ID tags, or better yet, had a microchip, the hold on adoption would have been 10 days instead of 72 hours, and the shelter would have had access to the owner’s contact information through the microchip manufacturer. You can read Rosemary’s full story here.
The other canine custody case was decided just this morning by a judge in Henrico, Virginia. Debra Escobar lost her beloved dog, Gracie – an adorable Bichon Frise/Shih Tzu mix – when she escaped from the family home in May 2015. Although nearly two years passed, Escobar never gave up hope that she would be reunited with Gracie.
This past February, her phone rang. It was Henrico Animal Control saying that a dog in their custody had been identified by microchip as her Gracie! But Escobar’s excitement was short lived. By the time she arrived at the facility, Gracie had been claimed by a man showing documentation that proved the dog was his, according to Animal Control.
The man rescued Gracie as she ran through traffic two years ago and had kept her as his own. He stated that he never took Gracie to the shelter to be checked for a microchip – as the law requires when a stray is found – because he believed that chips acted as GPS devices, and if the dog had an owner, they would be led to her location by the device. Since no one arrived to claim her, he assumed Gracie was not microchipped.
Escobar refused to let Gracie go a second time, and the new owner also declined to give her up. Today, a judge sided with the dog’s original owner in a civil suit she brought and ordered Gracie to be returned to the Escobar family.
* Over half a million dog owners breaking the law, one year on from introduction of compulsory microchipping *
In response to the case, Rob Leinberger, Richmond’s Animal Control supervisor, offered the following insights about microchips:
“The microchip is more of a permanent identification. It’s not a GPS, it’s just an identification, similar to a metal or plastic traditional tag. So if those tags get lost, the microchip is the means of permanently identifying that particular animal to that particular owner.”
Leinberger added that microchipping is inexpensive, and can be done on any animal at a routine vet visit. He also encouraged pet owners who have already microchipped their animals to make sure the information is kept up to date.
“If you move, you change your phone number, you give the animal away, you always want to make sure you have current information on file with your microchip company.”
For everything you need to know in order to make an informed decision about pet identification chips, check out 8 Things You Need To Know About Microchipping Your Dog.
H/T to NBC 12
Featured Image via Facebook/Microchipping for Dogs