How to Prove Ownership of a Dog if There Is No Collar With ID

by Tammy Dray
    Fido's ID tag missing? Things can get hairy.

    Fido's ID tag missing? Things can get hairy.

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    So Fido decided to take a walk without you and got himself lost. Now that you've discoverewd where he is, do you need to prove he's yours? Maybe the shelter won't give him back to you, or whoever found him doesn't trust you. Proving ownership without tags can be tricky.

    Step 1

    Ask if there's anything specific the possessor of your dog wants you to show to prove ownership. Are they looking for an informal proof of ownership just to make sure you're not a stranger who happens to want a dog? Would meeting the dog and having him recognize you -- hopefully Fido likes you enough to celebrate being reunited with you -- be enough? Or do they want paperwork or something more formal?

    Step 2

    Ask the entity that has your dog to scan the microchip, if Doggie has one. The info in the microchip should match your name and hopefully your address, too. Then bring something to prove your identity and you should be set.

    Step 3

    Bring photos of Fido and you together. You do have tons of those, don't you? Even better, bring pictures of Fido at different ages or taken in different places.

    Step 4

    Bring any papers you have. Ideally, you have adoption or registration papers that include your name and maybe a description of Fido. Maybe a photo or details of how he looks? How about veterinary records? Some vets keep detailed records that include photos or descriptions of the pets.


    • Keep in mind that proving legal ownership of a dog can be tricky if the courts get involved. In those cases, you might have to take additional steps that can go as far as paying for a DNA tests -- and comparing Fido's DNA to hair in your home or on a brush. Do they match? That's often proof that the dog lived with you at some point.


    • If someone other than a veterinarian, shelter, rescue or other organization has your dog, be prepared to contact police. Heartless scammers have been known to steal a dog only to con the owner out of money. Otherwise, a finder of your dog may have bonded with him enough to resist your taking him away.

    Photo Credits

    • Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.

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