In the case of a reader asking if a puppy rescued from the streets could be kept legally despite the owner, a happy ending

I wouldn’t give the puppy back to the woman. I would ask the woman to show all proof of ownership, then have her meet me at a local humanitarian company and ask her to explain why the puppy was found in the condition it was found. While your advice may seem right on paper, in this case, it’s what’s in the heart and what’s in the brain: common sense.


Dear Donna,

I have discovered in my 30 years of activity in the animal welfare field that more often than not people are negligent on purpose, but out of ignorance. Read on to see how the story unfolded.

Dear Cathy,

I wanted to follow up on the lost puppy that I was caring for that was not healthy, so I was afraid to return it to its owner. When I found the owner, she also told me that she was not going to pay the vet bills I incurred.

I asked a friend to come with me to her house to return the puppy. I had accepted that she wasn’t going to pay me, but I hoped I could educate her on how to take care of the puppy. Otherwise, I was going to call animal control to follow up with her.

When I arrived she showed me proof of ownership. It seemed legitimate. I shared my concerns for the welfare of the puppy and that the puppy was like a baby and should not be left outside (even with another dog).

She was very receptive. She said it had been years since she looked after a puppy. I felt she was sincere because she asked me a lot of questions.

Before I left, I gave her a copy of the vet’s bills and told her that all I wanted was what she thought was right. She looked at the bills, thanked me for taking care of her puppy, and handed me a check for the full amount.

Before leaving, I asked to meet his other dog. He appeared to be in good health. It made me feel better.

She also said that I could come and visit the puppy if I called ahead. I haven’t accepted the offer yet but felt better about the big picture. I’ll probably be checking on her at some point. Thanks for your advices.

Dear Renée,

I love the thoughtfulness and grace with which you have handled this situation. Your honesty and sincerity opened her to receive your message. You made a difference in this puppy’s life. Procedures!

Send questions, tips and stories to your pet at [email protected] You can read the Animals Matter blog at and follow her on @cathymrosenthal.

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