How to Prove Ownership of a Dog With No ID

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So Fido decided to bust out of the backyard after bathtime and got himself lost—without his ID tag. Thankfully, you eventually discover where he is, but are asked to prove he's yours. Maybe the shelter/rescue, vet, or authorities won't give him back to you unless you provide proof. Or it could be that whoever found him wants to make absolute certain that he's yours. Proving ownership without tags or a microchip can be tricky (which is why it's ideal to get your pets chipped!) If you do find yourself in this situation, try the following.

Warning: If someone other than a veterinarian, shelter, rescue or other organization has your dog and they are being unreasonable about returning him, 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.

Ask For Specifics


First, 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 be enough? Or do they want paperwork or something more formal?

Family Photos

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.


Show Me Your Papers

Bring any papers you have. Ideally, you've kept the 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.

By Tammy Dray


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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.