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Local Veteran gets to keep dog

(WILX)
Published: Dec. 19, 2018 at 6:03 PM EST
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Imagine having a dog for over a year, then one day being told your dog doesn't really belong to you and you may have to return it to its original owner.

A local man reached out to News 10 to see what his rights were, before losing his furry friend forever.

During the summer of 2017, Austin Hayne found his dog on the side of the highway near Cooperville. Hayne said he tried to find the owners by informing the humane society and the sheriff's office in Cooperville, but never heard back from the agencies.

"I decided to keep him and he was the best time I ever had," Hayne said.

Hayne said when he found the dog on the road, he couldn't help but stop and pick him up. And that's where the dog got his name, Highway.

Hayne took Highway to the vet in his hometown of Hillsdale. Although the dog did have a chip, Hayne was told it wasn't registered. This meant someone would have to claim him.

When no one came looking, Hayne gave Highway a permanent home.

"It's been great! I've pretty much taken him everywhere," said Hayne.

Hayne is a Veteran and Highway has become his emotional support dog.

Monday night, Dec. 17, Highway found a weak spot in the fence at Hayne's East Lansing home.

He escaped and was picked up by Ingham County Animal Control.

The shelter found the microchip and discovered that Highway was registered to a different owner, not to Hayne.

That's when the registered owners were contacted and Hayne was at risk of losing his best friend.

"Either way, I'm happy that he didn't get hit by a car and that he's safe and off the streets, and now I'm struggling to get him back," Hayne said.

He says Highway is more than just a dog.

Hayne said he was attacked years ago during a night out in San Diego when he was in the Marines.

"During the assault, I suffered two skull fractures -- one on each side of my skull from front to back, and a TBI and it severed my hearing nerve," he said.

He lost 60% of his hearing and has a brain injury.

Hayne says, "He has woken me up when I haven't heard my alarm for work, and he has woken me up when they were testing the fire alarms and I don't hear the fire alarms because I don't pick up that high of a frequency. He's done a lot for me; he's a great dog."

Animal Control told News 10 that even though it's been more than a year, the original owner still does have the legal right to claim the dog.

On Tuesday afternoon, the original owners came to the shelter and they agreed to allow Hayne to keep Highway.

It's good to make sure your pet has a microchip and that the information on that chip is up-to-date and includes the easiest way to contact you in case your pet go missing.