Is Your Missing Dog Caught in a Custody Dispute?


At Lost Dogs of America, our state organizations concentrate their efforts to help the individual owners and finders of lost dogs.  Their specially trained volunteers can give good advice and support for both shy and friendly lost dogs.  They can also give you excellent advice if you have found a loose dog and are looking for the owner. Our organizations have helped successfully reunite thousands of dogs.

Some times, a missing dog becomes involved in a custody dispute.  The dog has been located, but for whatever reason, is not in the possession of the owner.  This is generally beyond our parameters of our mission or scope of  our services.

We can offer some advice though – that may be helpful if you find yourself in this situation.

Who might have the dog?

  1. A disgruntled spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, or family member.
  2. A disgruntled employee.
  3. A disgruntled contractor who believes that money is owed for services provided.
  4. A Good Samaritan who picked the dog up and has now become emotionally attached to the dog, or believed that the dog was neglected, abused or abandoned.
  5. An adopter who unknowingly adopted your lost dog from a shelter or rescue.

Here are our five suggestions if you are having trouble regaining custody of your dog:

  1. Immediately contact your local police department and file a police report. Dogs are property in all fifty states and somebody has possession of your property. Even if the police don’t appear helpful, this paper trail will help you if you have to go to court.
  2. Heavily flyer the neighborhood AND the house where your dog is located. Some finders will turn the dog over either because they feel guilty or are afraid of getting in trouble with the law.
  3. Gather and organize all of your paperwork that proves ownership of your dog including adoption or sale papers, vet records, microchip information, family photographs and dog licensing records.
  4. Consider hiring an attorney and/or a private investigator to help you.
  5. Contact your local media to see if they will consider doing a story about your missing dog and your situation.

A few more tips:

Stay calm. The police will be more likely to help if you remain calm and rational.

Be smart and safe.  Never arrange to meet anybody alone. Choose a neutral safe place to meet, perhaps the parking lot of the police station, and preferably during daylight hours. Better yet, ask the police to accompany you.

If you feel that you are being scammed – please click this link and read this article.

Don’t give up! Custody suits can take weeks, months or longer to pursue.  Your dog is depending on you to bring him safely home.