Monday, December 29, 2008
Help Me Howard: Can't Get Dog
Having your dog go missing is a painful experience. But imagine finding out it's alive and well, someone else has it and won't give it back. That's the situation for one family, so they've placed this doggy dilemma in the lap of Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- If you have a pet, you know they are more than a four-legged animal.
Keith Wheeler: "She's everything you could want in a dog. She's sweet, affectionate, she demands attention from you."
Keith's constant companion, a 2-year-old Maltese named Dizzy, not just his friend, but his son's best friend.
Keith Wheeler: "She was everything to Jacob."
We are talking in past tense because a year ago Dizzy disappeared.
Keith Wheeler: "Dizzy got through right here, went under the fence and took off."
The Wheelers did everything they could, posted flyers and searched their Coral Springs neighborhood.
Keith Wheeler: "Immediately, I knocked on some doors to try and find her."
Fortunately, Dizzy had a microchip. Unfortunately, Keith notified the wrong chip company that she was missing, so Dizzy never turned up.
Keith Wheeler: "I was afraid she was dead."
Nearly a year passed. Then Keith heard of another microchip company. Keith put in Dizzy's chip number and bingo. The company said Dizzy was alive and registered to a different owner.
Keith Wheeler: "They told us she had been named Pearl and that we should call the police to contact the current registrant to get the dog back, so we did."
Keith says the Coral Springs Police knew who the new owner was and went to talk to her.
Keith Wheeler: "I don't know exactly what she said, but basically she refused to give us our dog back."
As it turns out, Coral Springs had picked up Dizzy, turned the dog over to a rescue group who then put Dizzy up for adoption. Keith wonders why they didn't check with the three microchip companies in business to find Dizzy's owners.
Keith Wheeler: "If they had done a thorough check to find out who the owner was, our dog would be home right now."
But, if someone has your pet, are the police right to let them keep it, Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "In Florida, there is no law that has decided this issue, but in other states when a missing animal turns up after a year, the courts have ruled in favor of the new owner and against the old owner. Keith could go to court and maybe a judge would rule in his favor, but it's not likely."
When we contacted the Coral Springs Police Department, they told us, "Our city attorney advised us to not return the dog to its original owner."
When we asked for the address of the new owner, they refused to give it to us. When we asked why they didn't check with the three companies to find the right owner, they told us, "We checked the chip that was in the dog."
When we asked the chip company for the new owner's address, they refused to give it to us.
You are probably thinking, "If I was Keith, I'd go get my dog if I could find the address," but Howard says it's not a good idea.
Howard Finkelstein: "In the eyes of the law, that dog belongs to the new owner. If Keith were to go get it, he could be charged with theft of his own dog."
The news disappoints the Wheelers, who can't believe their dog is so close, but they may never see her again.
Keith Wheeler: "Please give us our dog back. That dog is not just property, it's part of our family, and we want her back."
Well, if your pet has a microchip, remember there are three chip companies. If your animal is missing, be careful because each company has their own scanner and none of them recognize the other company's chips.
We'll keep looking for the dog, and as for Keith, he is not giving up and may go to court to get Dizzy back.
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