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Same dog claimed by 2 families 4 states apart

Same Dog Claimed By 2 Families 4 States Apart

Back in 2007, the Miller family in Texas lost their Maltese named Reese -- and amazingly, last weekend, they got a call saying he had been found.



KPRC reports: A man found Reese on a busy road, who took him to a vet, who found his microchip. He was almost 2,000 miles from home."

"Nervous and excited, just hope he accepts us," Dinah Miller said.

There's a bit of a twist that put a damper on what was supposed to be a happy reunion, though. While the Millers were overjoyed to have Reese back, another family in Washington was searching for him.

KHOU reports: "Every day we've gone out and printed flyers and walked around the neighborhood several times a day just calling his name," a member of the family from Washington said.

Years ago, the family from Washington adopted Reese from a shelter near Dallas and named him Harley, not knowing about his past. The family relocated to Washington and recently lost Reese, A.K.A. Harley, when their 2-year-old opened the front door. Seems Reese is kind of a runner.

Now, both families are wearing their hearts on their sleeves.

ABC reports: The family from Washington is heartbroken over the lost dog. "Harley has touched our lives more than you can explain," one family member said.

"My niece, it's really even harder to see her cry for him every single day," another member said.

"Seven years ago. Seven full years. And we never gave up hope. And we never stopped talking about him," Miller said about reuniting with Reese.

Apparently the shelter doesn't have records of whether Reese was ever checked for a microchip. The second family is asking for the dog back, but the Millers aren't budging. So, who gets the dog?

The Animal League explains every case is different but offers what might be a helpful example: "In exceptional situations (such as Hurricane Katrina) where animals were taken all over the country and their 'owners' were not able to track them down for a long time, courts have sometimes ordered the animals returned."

Although Animal Legal Defense Fund claims if you weren't the original caregiver, "don't give up." You can fight for custody rights by showing receipts for animal care and other documentation that proves you've been its primary owner.

Some outlets covering the story consulted legal experts, and they all said the Millers will likely gain legal rights to the pup.

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Join the discussion

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Effie July 25 2014 at 5:56 AM

I think the Millers should keep Reese and the family in WA should go to an animal shelter in WA and rescue a pet that will work well with a two year old. The TX animal shelter should be penalized for not checking Reese's microchip 7 years ago. None of this would have happened if they had done their jobs properly.

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3 replies
dollibug July 25 2014 at 6:22 AM

The woman who showed good ownership by getting the dog a microchip of course is *entitled* to her dog. This is the reason they do this.

Flag Reply +35 rate up
3 replies
mielmani July 25 2014 at 8:55 AM

The second family needs to bite the bullet and explain to the niece that the dog belongs to someone else and that he's now at his real home and that they need to be happy for him. Then go and get another dog, for crying out loud. Kids these days needs to understand that crying is not going to get them everything that they want; that's just life.

Flag Reply +30 rate up
2 replies
mistykay13 mielmani July 25 2014 at 4:05 PM

Completely agree with you! Those folks have been missing that little dog for 7 YEARS! Why haven't these who adopted him from a shelter bother to have a vet microchip the dog? If they had bothered to do that the vet would have immediately KNOWN it already WAS MICROCHIPPED! So, apparently the 2nd family were not concerned about losing him as were his original family! SOOOOO tired of kids being allowed to be the decision makers for parents!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Grimmalkin mielmani July 27 2014 at 12:31 PM

Crying is a normal response to grief, and is perfectly understandable given the loss of a pet they've owned for seven years.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
blackbelt.ron July 25 2014 at 12:43 PM

Use The "Judgment of Solomon" Rule to decide....

Two young women both claimed the same infant son and came to King Solomon for a judgment of who is the true mother.
After some deliberation,
King Solomon called for a sword to be brought before him.
He declared that there was only one fair solution:
The live son must be split in two,
Each woman receiving half of the child.
Upon hearing this terrible verdict,
The boy's true mother cried out,
"Oh Lord, give the baby to her, just don't kill him!"
And she was given her son back.. - here endith the problem of who gets the dog!
Or
Just let the dog decide... ;-D

Flag Reply +25 rate up
3 replies
Janie July 25 2014 at 6:59 AM

Sorry folks...this dog belongs with his original owner, the Reeses.

A shelter that doesn’t do its due diligence in verifying whether or not an animal is microchipped hasn’t taken the most basic step in confirming its "adoptability". That doesn’t nullify an owner's right to property once recovered...& in the eyes of the court, a dog is considered property...just as if a car you owned had been stolen--& recovered. You own it regardless of who may have purchased or maintained it in the interim.

I feel sorry for the Lopez family, & any costs related to allowing this family to choose another needy, loving pet, licensing fees, microchipping & some initial maintenance compensation should be born by the shelter.

Heartbreak in this issue can't be avoided by one party or the other, but a wrong committed by a third party doesn't erase history or fact. Hearts are pretty amazing things when it comes to pets...no pet ever replaces another, but somehow the heart finds ways of loving them all.

Flag Reply +23 rate up
3 replies
katydid579 July 25 2014 at 9:09 AM

What kind of backward, hick town animal shelter wouldn't check their animals for microchips? They should be sued for stupidity and creating this heartbreaking situation.

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1 reply
Nicolle katydid579 July 26 2014 at 12:18 PM

Unfortunately there are alot of them all over the country. The upside is this shelter did rehome it, instead of putting it to sleep.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
vivianlwood July 25 2014 at 8:52 AM

The Millers cared enough about the dog, and were responsible enough, to have him microchipped. The WA family didn't. On top of that, the family in WA didn't even prevent their two-yr-old from opening the front door without adult supervision. They're just lucky they didn't lose the two-yr-old, too.

Flag Reply +16 rate up
2 replies
Bluemoon vivianlwood July 25 2014 at 3:47 PM

The Millers were also irresponsible and let the dog get out and run away. Neither should have him.

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Susan vivianlwood July 25 2014 at 4:07 PM

The family in Washington is playing the 'kid card', showing sad children in an attempt to go for the pity play.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
SCOTT !!!!!!!! July 25 2014 at 8:31 AM

The dog was Micro Chipped for a reason. I as a dog owner Chip my animals for a reason. That also shows ownership. Sorry Washington.IF you wanted to prove ownership of your animal and wanted to make sure you didn't loose Harley? Then you should have Chipped Harley. As far as the Miller's are concerned you are just asking for a dog that "looks" like there dog. Thier dog proves that Reese is thiers.

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Peter July 25 2014 at 8:17 AM

WHO CARES...WHO CARES...WHO CARES...WHO CARES...WHO CARES...It's a freaking dog and we spent time, effort, breath and money to follow this ridiculous story?....What a complete bunch of moronic idiots....with everything going on in the world...we follow the double lives of dogs? Social Media is rapidly becoming the downturn of human civilization.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
15 replies
ikibobo July 25 2014 at 11:02 AM

I'm in agreement with Effie. The original family has been missing this dog for seven years. The dog was chipped and the shelter never checked for it. That's not to say the 2nd family is at fault for anything. Just a bittersweet set of circumstances.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
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