Some of you may know my sister and her boyfriend, for those who do not his name is Adrian Chojnicki. Adrian comes from an Italian family that lives next to the Welland canal, and from that house on the outskirts of town he lost his dog. As most dog owners with playful or energetic dogs know this can be a difficult reality to avoid. So they set out to find him, and they did so well into the night. After an unsuccessful search they returned home and called the local SPCA and Humane Society from the next couple of towns.
This search would progress for months, with he and his family going out to these facilities to look for the dog. They checked online and made nearly every logical effort to find their dog that ran off into the patchwork of fields and roads between Welland and Niagara Falls. He may have been lost forever, and as winter neared that seemed more possible until...
Adrian found Chaz (the dog) on the Niagara Falls Humane Society website. An immediate sense of relief came, though it wouldn't last for long. After contacting the NFHS about the posting the humane society delivered the news that Chaz had been adopted out. Shock and disbelief, how could such an error occur- ok, truthfully we have all heard a story about Humane Societies having errors or failing to identify dogs without markings or microchips. But Chaz was marked, and he would have definitely fit the description on the day one of the Chojnickis went to the shelter and Chaz was there - but trust in the reassurance that no dog fitting the description was their greatest error.
Knowing that their dog was filed as adopted it was a battle for the Chojnicki family to get the contact info for the new owner. The Humane Society has opted to distance itself from the situation, although this action could implicate them in the theft. They know and chose not to contact the family that took the dog.
Information about the family that took the dog can be found in this article: http://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2218284 and it includes a video. The video makes it even worse for Adrian, who not only lost his dog but now sees this child who has been taught by his parents about "finders, keepers" in a very bad way. Typically adults can admit their error, but this child's father is using his sons 2 month bond with the dog to prevent it from returning to its friend, master, and legal owner. What is worse is that this man ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Niagara Falls - and may run again. This connection may be the reason the Niagara Regional police has chosen not to assist in the recovery of Chaz for the Chojnicki's - who considered taking the dog back without the police but ultimately know that two wrongs do not make a right.
The Niagara Regional Police are in a bit of a pinch as we have blurred the role of dogs in society. Are they property or are they part of the family (as persons)? The correct answer is - it doesn't matter. If Chaz is property then the dog has been illegally granted to the other family and must be returned to the Chojnicki's at a penalty to the humane society. If Chaz is a part of the family as a person then the other family must prove that Chaz was mistreated, which he was not, in order to remove him from his original family.
This is something important to me, not because I know Adrian or the dog but because it reflects a disrespect for personal property and the law. It is a basic part of any non-corrupt human civilization to protect property rights. If I find a car can I tow it at random to a junk yard and wait a month or so then allow them to get rid of it? What if I am the junk yard operator? What happens if I am the one that acquired the stolen car? It is theft, and the unwillingness to return it at any level should be punishable by law. The tow driver will use discretion, the junk yard will only accept vehicles from their owners or as scrap (not really a car anymore), and the people getting the car will look into the credibility of the vendor and accept their loss as a way to avoid being arrested, sued in small claims, or both.
I feel worst for Chaz, or as he apparently being tormented as "Vincent" now. We wouldn't be in this situation if it weren't for his spirit of adventure, or physical power. But maybe in this new house he will finally have his spirit beaten, his sense of adventure broken, and his memories lost. Then again, it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks.