Can You Legally Rescue A Neighbors Neglected Dog In Lawton?
Once in a while, there is a post or two that flows across my social media newsfeed asking for advice about a neglected pet in their neighborhood. Usually, it's someone who has the impression a neighbor isn't taking care of their pets, and the line between what is legal and what is right gets a little muddy.
I remember Critter had a neighbor for a while that kept three big dogs locked up in a 12x8 foot kennel 24/7/365. Those poor dogs would bark all day and all night, I'd assume looking for a little stimulation outside the links of their fence. Even though the family had kids, the dogs remained in this kennel all the time. The question became "What can be done about these poor dogs?"
The obvious and legal answer is "Call animal welfare."
The city would supposedly send an animal welfare official out to investigate, but if there are no obvious cues to neglect, malnutrition, etc... there's not much the city can do.
I saw another post about a dog that was chained up in the front yard of the neighbors home all day, every day, and the person posting about it didn't actually know if anyone lived there or not. It could have been a case of the neighbors parking in the garage all the time, schedules never aligning to shed light on the situation, but again, there's no harm in calling on animal welfare to do a checkup.
Far too often, the boundaries of the legal written law don't allow for the benevolence of doing what is known to be right... so what can you actually do in a similar situation?
Well, in Oklahoma, pets are property. Taking a pet is no different than stealing anything else... but the differing factor here is whether or not you can prove negligence.
I stumbled across a good piece of advice that might tie what's legal to what is right in the most direct manner.
If you know a neighbors pet is being neglected and in need of rescue, you may be legally obligated to take that neighbor's pet to a vet. A veterinarian can then offer paperwork stating the pet was in fact in need of medical help, therefore making you a rescuer instead of a criminal in that instance.
Will it hold up to scrutiny? I don't see why not. Vets are licensed as pet medical professionals by the state, how can their word not be taken as fact? All the same, this shouldn't be the first, go-to method of rescuing an animal. You're best to let the city animal welfare department at least try to carry out the duties they're entrusted with.
So the next time you see someone talking about their neighbors' poor pets, you now have an idea on how to go about doing what's right in the face of what could be misconstrued as illegal.