Family & Rescue At Odds Over Lost Dog That’s Found Unspayed & Unvaccinated


When a rescue group took a lost pup into their care and told her family she needed medical treatment before being released, the owners described it as a “hostage” situation. However, the Korean K9 Rescue says it was a matter of responsibility and following the law.

The Cipia’s dog, a 4-year-old Shiba Inu named Lily, got loose and a pair of good Samaritans turned her in to the Korean K9 Rescue (KK9R) in Queens, New York. From there, the group posted the pooch’s photo on social media in hopes of finding the pup’s rightful family.

A couple days later, the owners commented on the Facebook post, saying that the pup was theirs. After getting in touch, the KK9R was happy to see that the Cipias could provide Lily’s correct microchip ID number – proof of ownership. However, after following up on her medical records, they discovered that she was not only unspayed, she was also unvaccinated. They also discovered that she had a rotting tooth.

KK9R said that as per New York City law, they had to treat and spay Lily before releasing her, and asked the family to cover the costs. However, according to the New York Post, the family wished to breed the Shiba Inu and wanted her to stay intact.

On their Facebook page, the rescue posted the following email exchange with Associate Public Health Sanitarian at New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Bernard Zicherman:

KK9R also posted:

“We were unable to immediately release Lily to her owners because, under New York City law, any dogs that come into the possession of a shelter or rescue must be sterilized, licensed, vaccinated for rabies, and microchipped. There were concerns from the owners regarding the medical procedures and whether the procedures were truly required. This caused a delay for an additional two days in completing the procedures and releasing the dog, which is why we remained silent about the situation.

Despite the way the statute is written, the Health Department places the obligation on both rescue groups and shelters to the procedures mentioned previously.”

According to a story by the New York Post, Cipia’s son, Axel, commented on the situation by saying, “We’re angry and upset… It’s like holding a kid hostage.”

The rescue received some backlash about the situation, but eventually, KK9R came to an agreement with the family. They posted:

“Our rescue became cognizant of the owner’s financial situation and will be covering the expenses for Lily to be sterilized, licensed, and vaccinated at a private vet’s office for the family’s convenience. We will also cover a dental procedure for Lily’s rotting tooth.”

Lily is now back with her original family, and KK9R has decided to cover her vet care costs, since they feel it’s in her best interest.

What do you think: do rescues have a right to hold lost pups until their spay/neuter and medical records are up to date? Or should that be up to the discretion of the owners? Let us know in the comments below!

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