Do you offer a reward to someone who finds your lost dog?
September 3, 2016 11:20 AM   Subscribe

My dog is a runner. When someone finds her and gives her back to me, is it appropriate to offer them a small reward for their trouble?

I am working on a solution to keep the dog from getting out, yes, but I wonder whether I have been doing the right thing.

Here's the scenario:
The dog gets out.
I look for her, but can't find her.
A couple hours later, someone calls the number on her collar to tell me they found her.
I immediately head over to where they are, thank them profusely, and ask if I can buy them a beer while offering money (say, $20).
They say no, no, I was happy to help.
I thank them some more.
We leave.

My theory is that (a) offering money helps to show my (very sincere) gratitude, (b) maybe one day someone will accept money for their trouble, and (c) when they don't, refusing my money allows them to be even more magnanimous, which maybe makes them feel good?

My adult son says, no, it is insulting because (a) it implies that they did this kind thing for gain, (b) it raises issues of race and class (we live in a transitional neighborhood and are probably better off than most of our neighbors).

No one has ever seemed insulted, but that doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't an insulting thing -- maybe people are tolerant because they can see I mean well?

What say you?
posted by pH Indicating Socks to Pets & Animals (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Offer a reward- it is a tangible statement of your appreciation in addition to your verbal thanks. Your son is overthinking this.
posted by charmedimsure at 11:24 AM on September 3, 2016 [17 favorites]

You are grateful, they helped you. Offer, expect it to be turned down mostly, but maybe someone who can really use it will accept.

It's part of the social contract to offer but be turned down. If you don't offer, the finders may find you entitled.
posted by TheAdamist at 11:26 AM on September 3, 2016 [12 favorites]

Random idea, but if this is a regular occurrence, i'd buy a handful of $10-$20 starbucks gift cards (or whatever is appropriate for your neighbourhood). Every time the dog escapes I'd be like "he does this a lot - thanks for helping me out, I really appreciate it. Let me buy you a coffee." Then give them one of the cards. It's not technically cash so it doesn't have the stigma attached, if they can't use it they can re-gift it, and you still get to thank them for their trouble.
posted by cgg at 11:26 AM on September 3, 2016 [71 favorites]

It's not insulting. There's no implication here at all when you offer the reward on your own out of gratitude and for someone doing something they didn't otherwise have to do.

In fact, there is almost a risk of insulting the person if you didn't at least offer the reward, because some could read it as you're expecting them to go out of their way to assist you. Race and class has nothing to do with this. It's just a decent thing to do.

I think your interaction is perfectly normal and fine, and in the occasional case if someone does decide to take the reward, give it freely without a second thought.
posted by Karaage at 11:28 AM on September 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

If just stuffing the cash in their hand is awkward (it is for me), I have had success with saying something like 'thank you soo much, here your next pizza is on me, please let me do this for you.'

I think it's less awkward to accept if it has an implied destination. It's not $20, it's a pizza of my choice. Somehow that feels less awkward.
posted by ian1977 at 11:39 AM on September 3, 2016 [10 favorites]

I think you should always offer a $20 which is ideally already in your hand. Maybe say, "Thanks so much; let me buy you a pizza."

But definitely offer; otherwise you could come off as non-thankful that people go out of their way to help capture your runaway pooch.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 11:40 AM on September 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

haha pizza jinx
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 11:49 AM on September 3, 2016 [8 favorites]

I have a dog, I am a dog person. I would refuse the reward. I kind of always assumed that non-dog people would take it.

I don't think it's rude to offer at all and wouldn't be insulted, I'd refuse in an effort to pay it forward (thank you to all you people who helped me find my dogs when they've gotten out!). I feel like it's my duty to help every dog safely get home to their people, I love all dogs so that's just part of the deal.

But if someone who doesn't really like dogs helps me out and helps my dog get home safe, I might insist they take that reward but I still think most people would refuse.

If you really wanted to do something, you could make a donation in their name (or something more anonymous) and let them know about it.

Full disclosure, I was born, raised, and continue to live in Minnesota where we have a reputation for being nice (or sometimes "nice" in a kind of back handed way but usually just nice) so factor that in.
posted by VTX at 11:51 AM on September 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I am not a dog person, and I would turn the money down, but offering it seems like the decent thing to do, especially if it happens a lot. $20 also seems like a good amount. I once found a credit card and called the person it belonged to. Even though I was a struggling single mom, when they offered me $5, it made me feel like they wanted to offer a reward, but couldn't really afford it, so I turned them down.
posted by FencingGal at 11:57 AM on September 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm on the side of offering the reward, but don't worry much about it if it's refused. You're recognizing that they've done something for you they didn't have to do, and if they refuse your reward, then it just means altruism is its own reward to them. I don't feel like class really enters into the discussion.

I like the idea of offering a reward in kind though, like bringing some cookies or something in addition to offering the monetary reward; that way, you have the cookies (or whatever) with you when you pick the dog up, and it's a way to show appreciation that I feel would be more likely to be accepted than money.
posted by Aleyn at 12:09 PM on September 3, 2016

I would turn the money down, because getting to hug a dog I've never hugged before while waiting for the owner to come and get him is THE BEST REWARD. But it's very nice that you offered one and not insulting or weird at all!
posted by ilovewinter at 12:19 PM on September 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

I find dogs a lot and I don't take any rewarfs because karma, but I'd say it's 50/50 on people offering.
posted by fshgrl at 12:24 PM on September 3, 2016

I brought in a runner not long ago, and the dog and my dog became instant friends while I was waiting for the runner dog's people to call me back. When they came by to pick him up, I got a sincere thanks and an offer for a doggy playdate, and that seemed perfectly right.

So with dog people, money could be weird. Would certainly be weird for me. I can't vouch for non-dog people.
posted by mochapickle at 12:26 PM on September 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think your way is right, but if your son grew up in the neighborhood, maybe give his concerns a bit more weight. (If he didn't, you can probably safely ignore him.)
posted by lazuli at 12:45 PM on September 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I can't stand dogs running loose. I'd happily take the money or gift card, and be considerably less annoyed with you for putting me out of my way.

I also feel like it would up the odds of your getting your dog back quickly if it's really that common a thing. I, non-dog-person, would think "There's that little brown dog again...last time I walked him home, I left with a $20 Papa John's card, the guy was really grateful. Since he was a nice dude and apologetic instead of IDGAF about the dog getting loose, I don't mind walking him home again; clearly he's trying..."

I live near shit dog owners who regularly let their two large labs run loose and clearly don't care. One of the dogs caused my kid to have a kind of bad bike accident -- many scrapes, and she took out a neighbour's tail light when she needed to make a split-second decision over running into and possibly hurting the dog vs running into the parked car. I remain furious with the dog owners and will probably take them to the pound next time the damn things go strolling through my yard -- I don't know where the owners live and they are not fussed to put an address on the tags, so, fine by me if they have to drive to the pound and pay to retrieve them. If you are the neighbour with the chronically AWOL dog, at least be apologetic, and generous to the people who have to deal with the poops or worse.
posted by kmennie at 12:59 PM on September 3, 2016 [12 favorites]

I think if you enter the home and there are dog toys, don't offer - as a dog owner I would find it frankly bizarre if someone offered in that situation - for dog owners to do this is like "we are all in the same community my god you must have been terrified". If you enter the home and they don't visibly own dogs, offer.
posted by corb at 3:21 PM on September 3, 2016

Wow, I have been a finder (multiple times) and sad owner (at least once), and a reward actually never occurred to me in either situation. But I agree offering $20 is a kind and generous thing to do.

In my neighborhood, this is often handled on the neighborhood Listserv or FB group if someone can't find/safely reach a number to call. To be honest, being the "OMG I can't believ their dog is out AGAIN" person would cause far more neighborhood angst than being offered/not offered a reward. In my neighborhood I would mitigate by explaining "the fence is getting patched on Saturday, thank you SO MUCH" either in person or publicly via list or FB, so that people don't start to write you off as "that irresponsible dog owner." (Not saying you are! Just thinking about how this dynamic would play out in my neighborhood.)
posted by instamatic at 3:41 PM on September 3, 2016

A person I didn't really know from an online community just lost their dog and happened to live in my city. They were in Italy on vacation so I searched high and low for the dog just because and due to no intervention on my part, doge was found!

Today he gave me a $20 steam gift card and I thought that was the sweetest thing ever. I certainly wasn't looking for any sort of reward but it really brightened my day.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 4:14 PM on September 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have a five-month old puppy. She loves squirrels. Although it hasn't happened yet, I'm fully prepared for her to vanish one day while on a walk. When she does, if I'm fortunate to have somebody call the number on her tag, I'll offer them a reward without hesitation. I don't care whether they think it's insulting. I'm grateful, and I want to show my gratitude.

Conversely, if I found a dog and called the number on the tag, I wouldn't feel insulted if the owner offered me a reward. I would't take the money, but I wouldn't feel insulted. It seems strange that something like that might be considered insulting.
posted by jdroth at 5:10 PM on September 3, 2016

Well, I grew up poor, and if a nice middle class person ever offered me a reward or compensation for some kind of decent thing I did (like finding a missing dog), I would have found it kind and charming, even if I refused.

I live in an urban area now in a neighborhood that is kind of mixed, class-wise. A lot of clearly middle-class people walk their dogs around without a leash (I see them doing it). Often, we see loose dogs running around that have gotten away from their owners, and we usually take time out of our day to see if the dog is friendly and check for a collar. It actually really annoys me that these people do this constantly, expect other people to wrangle their dog (whether they choose to or not, some dogs are interested in people), and then offer nothing in exchange but "thanks!" Especially when I have to choose between "is this dog scary? will it hurt me? why is it off its leash?" and "jesus christ, I don't want to ignore this dog, what if it ends up getting hit by a car because its owner is an idiot?"

I'm not saying you're an idiot, just it's not the simplest thing in the world to decide to help with a runaway dog, so it's nice to acknowledge that. Especially if it happens all the time-- non dog people will definitely feel a bit ?? if they see your dog running around more than once and you seem to be blase about it.
posted by stoneandstar at 5:17 PM on September 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

This might be slightly off-topic but I view dog owners like stoneandstar mentions differently. If your dog is a chronic escape artist, I will drop everything and help that dog get home every time, no problem and any offered reward will be refused.

I also don't have a problem with people having their dog off-leash in areas that aren't expressly off-leash dog parks as long as they are well trained enough to keep by their person's side no matter what and always do what their person says (which usually means an exceptionally well trained dog).

But if your dog runs off constantly because the dog is poorly trained and you still let them off the leash, well, I happen to know that my city's animal control department is VERY good at finding dogs new homes so I won't think twice about dropping your dog off with them. I've also called the city to report violations of the leash laws. With the just the licences number, they'll contact the owner and give them a talking to. But this will vary a lot depending on the city.
posted by VTX at 7:14 AM on September 5, 2016

I would absolutely offer a reward. Although dogs are so sweet and it's a joy to be around them, actually contacting you as the owner and possibly having to wait around for you to call them back, then having to stay home until you're able to make it over could be a huge PITA for someone who is late to work, has to pick up kids, wants to go to bed, whatever. Plus they could be scared of dogs or allergic but still feel obligated to keep your dog in sight.

I am usually all about gift cards instead of cash to make transactions like this less awkward, but honestly getting a $20 reward would be sweet, especially if I were not well off. And be firm about offering, too, because many people who could 150% use that money would be too proud to just accept if the offer is wishy-washy.

Good luck keeping your dog inside!
posted by amicamentis at 2:28 PM on September 8, 2016

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