Custody questions arise after multiple owners try to claim missing Colorado Springs dog

A Colorado Springs woman is frustrated following a custody decision related to her dog that went missing ten years ago.
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 6:23 PM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - When the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region (HSPPR) informed Sariah Cottle earlier this month that her dog, Mikah, was at the shelter after he’d been missing for 10 years, she was relieved.

However, she told 11 News Reporter Lauren Watson that her relief joined a mix of other emotions soon after, when she was told that another family was also trying to claim the dog... and that they had 10 years of vet records and photos as proof of ownership.

“I don’t really understand the point of a chip if I got him chipped as his owner and now my ownership is being questioned,” Cottle said. “You know, I have the records and pictures too.”

HSPPR President and CEO Duane Adams said it’s a situation that’s happened before, and it’s one that never has an easy solution.

“It’s a very difficult decision because we know no matter which way we go with this, someone’s going to be very upset with us and about the outcome of what happens,” Adams told 11 News.

The outcome in this case? The dog was given to the family he’d been living with, not Cottle.

“Because it’s been 10 years, this dog is used to this other person who has been providing care for it,” Adams said. “It was very obvious that we needed to return it to them, and that doesn’t mean that the other person doesn’t feel that they have some right to this animal.”

Adams said part of the difficulty in cases like this is lack of clear pet ownership laws in the state of Colorado.

“People put a microchip in their pet expecting that that is going to get their pet back to them, and that that denotes some type of a title or ownership document,” Adams said, “and it doesn’t, as far as the state laws are concerned.”

Cottle said she was frustrated with that lack of clarity in the law as well, and she also was frustrated at the lack of control she felt in the situation. Cottle said she wanted to be part of the decision making process and to at least see the dog after all of these years, but those options were not granted to her.

“It just broke my heart because you know, I don’t know the life that he’s had, I don’t know if he’s been treated right,” Cottle said. “My intentions aren’t to, you know, rip Mikah away from them, my intentions are to do the right thing and to do the legal thing and to make sure that he’s taken care of, and whatever is going to be best for him, that’s what I want.”

According to Cottle, Mikah’s chip was never reported until now, and she believes whoever initially found or took the dog decided to keep him without checking to see if he belonged to someone.

“For me in this instance, you know, I did all of my proactive pieces to make sure that in the event that he ever did go missing that he was found,” Cottle said, “and you’re not doing the right thing if you’re not trying to reunite them with their owners.”