Say someone finds a stray dog in Florida, USA, and some research indicates that the dog's registration and vaccination have both expired. In this case, is it better to return the dog to the owner or to an animal shelter? The owner is unaware that the dog is with the finder at this moment.

I am not exactly sure if I should ask this question here or at Law stack exchange, since this question is both about a pet and about the law.

  • 4
    How do you know that the registration and vaccination is expired? I think this is more an ethics question than one for the law. May 27, 2020 at 7:33
  • @Allerleirauh, I checked his registration online and it was expired since last year. I wonder it could be a sign of neglect and the owner did not do what the law requires. It is almost like asking: If I see somebody violating the law, should I report?
    – Zuriel
    May 27, 2020 at 13:25
  • There may be a good reason that renewal of her license and vaccines weren't done (poverty, forgetfulness, early dementia, +more); please don't turn this dog's life upside down on a presumption. I love my dogs dearly, but if I don't re-register them the same day I get a notification, I forget. As to vaccines, the only one legally required where I live is rabies. If you ever find one of mine, please call. There will be a distraught owner very happy to give you a reward for your trouble. May 29, 2020 at 1:14

1 Answer 1


Always try and contact the owner first. If an animal has an owner that is the best place for them (excluding obvious cases of neglect and abuse). A shelter is for homeless animals and there's problems in most places with not enough homes for pets. The pets miss their owners and vice versa. So a reunion is the best thing all round.

The expired registration and vaccination is irrelevant in deciding whether or not to return an animal to their owner, unless it means the animal has been abandoned or it makes tracing the owner difficult.

If the dog has an owner, technically it is not a stray, it is lost.

  • Thanks! I thought the expiration indicates the owner is technically keeping the dog illegally, or at least did not do what the law requires to keep the dog, which could be a sign of neglect.
    – Zuriel
    May 27, 2020 at 13:18

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