We took in a boarder from a longtime, good client, who said the pet was a stray that he acquired from the local groomer. During
our exam, we found a microchip and were able to locate and contact the original owner, who said the dog had been stolen about
six weeks earlier. What are our rights and responsibilities in situations like this?
"You fulfilled your ethical obligation to contact the registered owner," says attorney Charlotte Lacroix, DVM, a consultant
with Veterinary Business Advisors Inc. in Whitehouse Station, N.J., and Amber Williams, a fourth-year Texas A&M University
veterinary student and the president of the Veterinary Business Association. Your next step: Give the dog back to your client.
"The clinic cannot and should not hold the dog," Dr. Lacroix says. "Give the information you found to your client and let
him or her deal with the matter."
And keep in mind, she says, you shouldn't give the client's information to the registered owner of the animal. Client confidentiality
rules mean you'd need a subpoena to release that information.
The registered owner could also get an injunction against the clinic to block the animal's return to the client, Lacroix says.
However, you'd probably return the animal to your client before the original pet owner could get an injunction filed.