Need some opinions on a weird situation I find myself in.

You find a dog and a month later the owners of the dog are found by your brothers girlfriend. They live 5 houses down, didn't put any posters up or go look for the dog at the pound. You feel they didn't really look for the dog at all. You end up keeping the dog after cops are called cause they threatened you. Cop says its our dog unless the other family takes us to court. About another month later the dog just got out of the house and the owners saw the dog and brought it into there house. We are legally the new owner of the dog so we go to their house and ask for the dog back. The families kids are crying, but the family gives us the dog back almost immediately.(Possibly scared of cops getting called again for some reason?) Do you keep the dog that you have grown attached to or give the dog back to the other family. I'm pretty torn.


Staff member
give the dog back, ask them to pitch in for a dog of your own? i donno just an idea...

or breed the dog, give the kids puppies? hahaha


The 47 Ronin
I have no idea what the rules are in that department, but I imagine a lost dog will always be the original owner's dog until they choose to give it up. I understand, though, that you say they didn't really try hard. I just don't know, technically, if lack of effort qualifies as loss of ownership.
Well the cops said it is our dog until they take us to court and have a judge decide. It seems unlikely they will take us to court as they haven't yet after a month. The fact that they couldn't even put up some lost poster for the dog shows me and my family that they didn't care enough for the dog to look for it. I've tried to find stuff online in this type of situation, but since the situation rarely happens there really isn't any good info to go on.


Why don't you ask them why they haven't really tried looking for the dog? It sucks taking something like that away from their kids, but if the parents really didn't care for the dog then I'd keep it. Otherwise I'd give it back because of the kids.
the mom said she went up and down the street a couple of times, when we asked why they didn't look for it. Now i don't know about most people, but when i lose a dog im going up and down the streets with posters and going door to door looking for my dog. About 10 years ago or so we lost a dog, that we later was found to be hit by a car and we spent weeks looking for him only to find him in the long grass on the side of the street dead.

10 min after we found the dog my mom walked up and down the street with it right by their house, and nobody was outside or looking for the dog it seemed.


Hmm not sure what I'd do there then. But you're right, if I lost my dog I wouldn't stop looking for it till I found it.

el jorge loco

Staff member
First in time, first in right, except in the presence of the true owners.

A dog, for all the sentimental value that it may provide for us, is considered simply property. When it is injured, maimed, or killed, we only get fair market value in most states. California law regarding this issue is a bit murky. Unlike actual property which does have identifying markers (such as a wallet with an ID in it), lost dogs w/o tags or insufficient tags, can actually be adopted by the finder upon getting a new license etc. If you had already done so, technically, you can claim ownership in court, and you may actually start a precedent in dog ownership laws in California.

But did you guys post any posters up saying you found a lost dog, or report it to the authorities? I know Vermont heard a case about this awhile back and the owner made every effort to locate the original owner, and with no response, took it in as their own pet. In this case, I don't know what California's precedent is, but I imagine it's not a very well-touched topic.

In any case, there's really nothing you can do, except maybe ask for whatever you spent caring for the dog. Other than that, nothing much, sorry man. Consider adopting at the ASPCA :)

civil servant

The 47 Ronin
That's quite an interesting situation. Your issue is not a legal one, it's a moral one generated almost entirely by emotions....the attachment you've developed with the dog, the feeling that the dog was not being adequately cared for before you found it, and the crying children who want their dog back. It may be a good idea to talk to the folks and at the very least find out whether they really feel that they did all that they could reasonably do to find their missing dog. You might be surprised by the answer. My decision would hinge on whether or not I felt the dog was being adequately cared for prior to getting lost. If it had then I would return it and maybe go rescue a pound dog. If it wasn't being cared for or if the people just decided that maybe they couldn't afford to keep the dog anyway once it had disappeared then I'd likely keep it to the benefit of all parties except the crying kids (who probably didn't do a damned ting to take care of the dog anyway).

If I had a dog(pet) return after even 20 years of being'd still be my dog as far as I'd be concerned. I'd say, "Thanks for taking such good care of my dog." Then I'd take my dog home.