Very recently, a little black poodle named LJ disappeared from his owner’s vehicle while she was attending a doctor’s appointment at a clinic downtown.
Leanne Hermary Fortune didn’t expect to be long, and when she returned, her vehicle had been ransacked and her little dog was gone. It happened that quickly.
What happened after that was quite an investigative process, and it was really very, very lucky that LJ found his way home. It is only due to the immediate search efforts and the kindness of strangers that this tiny teacup dog was reunited with his family.
The search for LJ revealed that the dog was picked up and then given away by the individual who found him.
He was returned to his home here in Brandon from a family in a rural community more than an hour away. The family who had been given the dog was unaware of the extensive search efforts underway.
This story was mirrored only days later, when another dog — a little red Pomeranian named Molly — went missing under similar circumstances.
It would seem that this dog was also "given away" in a situation that is best described as a misunderstanding between the individual in care of the dog and two young girls she encountered at a park. Fortunately, Molly has also been located and was returned home earlier this week.
In both cases, it would appear that the dogs were given away in a sudden "on-the-spot" scenario — and in both situations, the individual who gave away the dog did not have the right to do so.
It is really important that the public understands that you cannot just keep and rehome a found animal.
Animals fall under the property section of the Criminal Code of Canada. If you find an animal, you cannot make the assumption that the animal is unowned and assume ownership — that actually qualifies as theft of property.
There is nothing wrong with helping a lost animal out. But without going through proper channels to ensure all steps have been taken to locate the owners, keeping or rehoming a found pet could land you in hot water!
I recall a situation a few years back involving a golden retriever that was found and "rescued" by some people, who really did believe that this dog had no owner. He was skinny, limping and lost and they made the assumption he was uncared for — a stray that had been running a long time.
The people who found this dog in Brandon drove him to their home, which was an hour away. They then contacted a Brandon rescue in an effort to rehome the "homeless" dog.
The rescue contacted decided to check in with the local pound for any reports of a lost golden retriever. As it turned out, the owner had been calling the pound nearly every 10 minutes and was desperately trying to locate his beloved pet.
In the end, it was also discovered that the dog was a senior picked up two doors down from his home. He was blind, had arthritis and was struggling with some other medical issues. And he wasn’t a stray — he was very, very loved.
I wanted to write this article to help create some awareness about these situations. Even in cases where an animal appears to be unowned, don’t assume that he or she is.
It is also extremely important that you are cautious about dogs or cats being given away — especially when someone just hands you a dog and asks if you want to keep it.
If you have found an animal or suspect an animal you have been given may be owned, please be sure to:
• Contact the authorities and the office of the city, town or rural municipality where the pet was found.
• Make use of online resources, such as BALA (Brandon Area Lost Animals) and eBrandon’s Lost and Found.
•l Check with vet clinics, animal rescues and radio stations in the area where the pet was found.
• Be sure to contact animal control nearest to where the pet was found.
It is very important that appropriate measures are taken to locate an animal’s owners.
If you would like to own or privately rescue the dog or cat you have found, you can express this when the dog or cat goes to the pound — and request a call if the owners do not reclaim him and/or if there is a risk of the animal being euthanized.
Dana Grove is an animal lover who works with several pet organizations in Brandon.