If I legally adopt a dog from the shelter, can I be forced to give her back to the orginal owner if they come looking for her?

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If I legally adopt a dog from the shelter, can I be forced to give her back to the orginal owner if they come looking for her?

I adopted a dog from the shelter who was picked up as a stray with no form of identification. She was held by the shelter the legal amount of days. I did all the legal paperwork. After I adopted her the orginal owner came to claim her. The shelter released my phone #, home add., and DL# to the owner. The owner showed up at my house and demanded I give the dog back. The police were called. The owner apparently had a police report saying the dog was stolen out of her yard a month earlier. The police told me I had to return the dog immediately or go to jail. I was not allowed to contact a lawyer

Asked on June 18, 2009 under Criminal Law, Arkansas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It is said the goal under common law is to reunite lost property with its true owner.  Therefore, the general rule attaching to lost property is that the one who finds lost property is entitled to possession of it against everyone except the true owner.   

No state, including Arkansas, has enacted provisions that specifically cover the issue of a lost dog.  Thus, it may be argued that the traditional common law rule of original ownership applies. 

Besides, do you really want to to deprive the owner of their pet?  They obviously cared enough to file a police report and track you down.  I know that this is hard for you, you've become attached.  However, there are unfortunately far too many other dogs that need homes.  You seem like a caring person, why not go back to the shelter and get another dog;  I'm sure you'll have better luck this time and you'll be perfoming a worthwhile public service.  I got my last dog from a shelter and had 12 wonderful years with him.

Best of luck. 


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