Beware: people falsely claiming found animals


As members of the Cape Animal Welfare Forum, we receive various emails and info. We received one from the SPCA which we think is very important to share. It relates to finding and advertising a stray which you have found (and a big WELL DONE to those who do so).

“Due to the fact that a lot of people who find animals advertise them, and often include a photograph, it is very easy for members of the public to produce a photo and convince staff that the photo is theirs when in actual fact they have taken it off the internet or social media page.

We had a case last week where a man tried to claim a GSD with a photograph ‘proving’ that it was his dog. The staff member was alerted when the dog did not recognise the ‘owner’. It turned out that he got the photo from Facebook.” 

This is particularly important for the more ‘desirable’ breeds like German Shepherd Dogs (as in this case), Pitbulls, Staffies, Boerboels, Huskies, and other purebred dogs. Yet another reason why you should microchip – and check that microchip regularly!

As they say, “If you found a diamond ring, would you publish a photo of it?”

What should you do? The SPCA says ‘the less said, the better’.

Do not give too many details. The key is not to put in too many details of the animal in your advert (be it in the newspaper, on Facebook, on posters, etc.) and to make the claimant give a full description.

Microchip. Take the animal to a vet to be scanned. If it is chipped, you can say so in the post but do not give the number publicly!

Keep descriptions basic. Give a very basic description of what it looks like and where you found the dog. For example: ‘Small, white dog with a collar found near Durban Road’, instead of ‘White fluffy miniature poodle with one green eye and one brown, with a short tail, and spots on his legs wearing a pink collar found on the corner of x streets’.

Identifiers. If the animal has a unique identifying feature, you can mention it but don’t describe it – the claimant will be required to do so. If people contact you, ask open-ended questions, e.g. ‘describe his markings’, not ‘does he have a white spot on his left leg’. 

Photos. You can share a photo, but crop out some of the detail (such as unusual marking, tail, etc.). This way a claimant will be forced to describe something that only the real owner would know.

Proof. These days, most people will have some proof, especially photos, as well as vet visits, breed registration papers in some cases, microchip registration – something! If the only ‘proof’ they have is the photo you posted online, this is a concern. 

Safety first! If you’re keeping the animal until someone contacts you, be safe: don’t let strangers come to your house and, if you’re meeting them, take someone with you.

To all those who take time out of their busy lives in order to help an animal who is lost, and try to reunite it with its family: thank you and well done – you are heroes!

©Copyright reserved Fisantekraal Animal Welfare 2021

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