Finders is NOT keepers.
We have a problem in our region (Illinois). One would hope that most people have a good moral compass. You drop your wallet .. someone returns it to you. You leave your cell behind at a store…someone turns it in. What happens if you find out someone found your lost items and kept them as their own and wouldn’t return them?
Easy. File a police report. Your property is STOLEN.
(720 ILCS 5/16-2) (from Ch. 38, par. 16-2) Theft of lost or mislaid property.
Now let’s apply this scenario to your furry family member.. Fido/Felix.. what are you to do????
This has been a controversial and confusing topic for quite some time. It wasn’t until i met Tial that it all became very clear.
You see… traditionally Animal Service agencies and police departments won’t take reports or assist. The standard answer is “it’s a civil matter”. But wait….. aren’t pets considered property by state statute?
Yes… you are correct. Pets ARE considered property. Additionally, as we learned above, by state statute, one is not allowed to knowingly keep possession of another’s property. So then what’s the recourse for pet owners?
This is where Tial and her Border Collie, Mika come in. Mika got loose through the family’s fencing. Someone picked her up and after becoming aware of Tial, decided to mislead her in an effort to keep Mika.
Enter the village police in the area Mika was being kept. The Chief of Police confirmed that keeping property one knows belongs to someone else can be punishable with a misdemeanor charge. In his opinion, there was enough evidence to warrant opening a criminal investigation. That’s right. CRIMINAL. The first step.. filing a police report.
I also verified with our local State’s Attorney’s Office that this situation was truly a prosecutable offense that given the strength of the evidence, could be brought to trial. He validated that this was indeed the case! Pet owners REJOICE!!!
In the end, public pressure and the fear of prosecution got Mika back to Tial. But i know of 3 other cases occurring at this moment where families are heartbroken knowing the household their pet is in, not able to get them back and feeling like they have no options.
You do. Gather your evidence. Call your police department. Insist on filing a police report. Follow up with the State’s Attorney’s Office with your case number. These are criminal situations. BE PERSISTENT.
And for those of you who choose to knowingly keep pets from their owners… you should reconsider. Consider the public informed.
Thank you Stephanie for going the extra mile to help Mika’s family!