Skip to content

Ownership issues or disputes

This advice is primarily for veterinary clinics who are presented with an animal by someone who is not the NZCAR primary contact.

We recommend that every animal that is new to a clinic is scanned, to ensure the microchip is working correctly, and your team check that details are up to date on the NZCAR.*

Sometimes, an animal will show marked as ‘lost’ or will display a different guardian. The majority of the time, this is probably due to a guardian not updating the record after the animal was found or rehomed. 

Most commonly, requests for transfer are by someone who is NOT the registered guardian, when an animal has been rehomed but the NZCAR has not been updated. A simple process of gaining consent from the registered guardian then completing the transfer is all that is required. However, we (NZCAR) would like to reaffirm our offer to relieve veterinary staff of these potentially tricky animal transfers. It is important for you to keep a good working relationship with your client (whether they are the registered guardian or not) and, after all, the contract for microchip registration services lies with NZCAR, rather than your vet clinic.

In most cases, a client who discovers they possess an animal that is registered to someone else will be agreeable to relinquish the animal, so the original guardian is happily reunited. If they are not, and you have their permission to share their details, you can pass the issue to our staff via 0508 LOSTPET.  


What will we do? 

  1. We will contact the registered guardian. 
  2. If the registered guardian is happy to relinquish NZCAR guardianship to your client, we can complete the transfer and make a note as such in the back end of the NZCAR (visible only to NZCAR staff).
  3. If they refuse to relinquish guardianship, we cannot change the NZCAR record to your client’s name. 
  4. If they request the animal back, we will not share your client’s details but will attempt to mediate between parties.  
  5. If no resolution can be found, we will suggest the parties pursue a court decision. It is important to remember that animals are ‘property’ by law. While the SPCA and Local Council officers have power to seize and dispose of or rehome animals under the Animal Welfare Act and Dog Control Act, the Courts are the only entity who can determine who ‘owns’ an animal. The NZCAR does not prove ownership of an animal.
  6. If we are officially directed to change an animal record by the Courts, SPCA or Animal Control Officer we will. For your protection, we recommend that clinic staff do not pursue this course of action.  


Please ensure that you do not ‘update’ the NZCAR guardian record, because the email address cannot be changed, and therefore correct transfer of guardianship will not be completed. The ‘transfer’ function should be used and only when consent from the registered guardian has been gained.

Remember, in accordance with privacy laws: You must not disclose the contact details of the registered guardian or their alternate contact to another person.

You can read further advice from the Veterinary Council here.

*In the new NZCAR, you can search an animal by using as few as the last 5 digits of their microchip number. We also have Bluetooth scanners that populate the chip number in the search fields. So checking the NZCAR is very easy now and can be part of every vet visit.