One of the most difficult issues the SHG has to deal with is proof of ownership. Animals stray or are stolen. They end up in RSPCA possession and the RSPCA will not part with the animal. Or they end up in the possession of an individual who claims that the animal is really theirs.
The police will not act, claiming that these issues are civil, an ownership dispute.
Most people cannot afford to pay a solicitor and there is no legal aid for this type of action.
So what can people do to ensure that they can prove ownership of their animals?
Whenever you transfer ownership of an animal also exchange receipts. Do this even if you give or receive the animal as a gift.
If the animal is going to be looked after for a period of time by someone else then get a signed agreement that details who is responsible for what. Especially in emergencies. Who has to arrange vet care? What if the animal strays? Or the carer is taken to hospital unexpectedly?
You need to create a paper trail of responsibility and ownership.
You also need to create a photo-dossier showing the animal in your possession over its life. Lots of photos, at least one a week with that day’s newspaper headlines in the photo and something else that is clearly your property or you also included. Never part with these documents. Try to keep copies away from home.
Remember that micro-chips are not proof of ownership. They can also fail or move in the animal.
Consider getting your animals tattooed. It is an obvious mark and as such is a deterrent.
Get a DNA profile of your animal. A quick internet search for “DNA profiling of pets” will list many companies who will produce a profile and even store a sample of your animal’s DNA. And as they say, unlike a micro-chip the DNA is tamper proof. It cannot be removed or fail. It is not invasive and has no adverse health implications.
All of the above are relatively cheap and easy to do. Especially when you think about how much it would cost if you ever had to fight to get your animal back.