Humane Law Forum: Whose Animal is it?
The importance of establishing ownership in surrender cases
Each day across the country, the staff working at intake desks at animal shelters are confronted with a variety of people giving up pets for a variety of reasons: they can no longer afford to care for them; they’re moving and think they can’t find pet-friendly housing in their new city; their pet has become aggressive. Some surrenders can be avoided with good counseling and medical or behavioral assistance; others are unsolvable and can be heartbreaking—though even these can lead to positive outcomes when a new home for the animal can be found.
Surrenders present enough challenges without the more troubling cases, in which someone presents an animal for surrender and the shelter or rescue only finds out later that this person did not have the legal authority to do so.
These cases are infrequent, but the trouble they cause makes it worthwhile to consider your organization’s procedures. What documentation do you require in order to take in—and potentially adopt out—a surrendered animal?