Thoughts on this doggy situation
Would like some feedback on this situation that my mom is going through.
9 months ago, my mom took in a little dog that "belongs" to my uncle's GF's daughter. Prior to my mom taking him, he was with my uncle for 9 months.
Prior to the past 18 months, the dog (now 4) went unneutered, rarely saw the vet, and was left at home, alone, for long stretches of time. He also had a bad case of wanderlust (probably hormone induced) and frequently ran off. The so called owner gave him to my uncle to "foster", then basically lost interest, rarely checking in on the dog, not helping with any bills, etc, etc.
My mom took the dog on, as my uncle has 5 of his own, and the last of my mom's old pair had past away a few months prior. She was lonely and missed having a dog and this guy is AWESOME. There may have been some discrepancy, initially about whether she was taking over the dog's ownership, or if she, too, was just fostering.
9 months on, and Mom has put $1500 in vet and grooming bills into this dog (neutering, general care, some care for skin allergies, and regular grooming sessions). She ADORES him, and he her. She is retired, so is home with him all day most days. He is happy and well adjusted and his anxiety issues are under control. He is walked regularly and leads a very good, good like (I ADORE this dog...he is such a cool dude).
Here's the real issue. The so called "owner" has been making noises, off and on, about taking the dog back. BUT, she has had little to no interest or contact in him for the past 18 months. On top of that, her lifestyle does not suit the dog...she would be gone from home 12 hours a day. And while she has many roommates, my mom feels that would contribute to his anxiety, not help it. On top of that, when he WAS in her care, he was not well cared for.
My family feels VERY strongly that the girl does not have any rights left on this dog. Funnily, neither does her mother, or my uncle (who, for some reason, keeps playing middle man instead of putting the girl in contact with my mom, as my mom has asked). Yet, she keeps insisting, every few months, that he should come "home" to her.
I have told my mom that I think the girl doesn't have much to stand on. His vet bills are in my mom's name. I have urged her to get him microchipped, as well.
What do you all think? Who's in the right? Would YOU give a dog back, after it's owner went, more or less, MIA for 18 months?
For the record, my family has taken in pets before for people in tight situations, yet those owners have always remained part of their animals lives until the time things were sorted out and they could take them back. We had an English Sheepdog for 8 months when I was a teenager for family friends who found themselves in a bind. But they made every effort to see her regularly, gave us money for food, and paid her vet bills. So, we know how these situations SHOULD work.