We know that almost everything can be explained, even in the case of that starved looking German Shepherd. Yes, it is possible that he went missing weeks or even months or years ago, this is why we must post a dog. If the owner is responsible and looking for their dog we have to give them that chance, by law.
There are several things that we get called on every day, sadly; in Missouri the laws are lacking as are the local ordinances governing animals.
Here is the law on several of our common calls:
578.009. Animal neglect — penalties. -- 1. A person commits the offense of animal neglect if he or she:
(1) Has custody or ownership of an animal and fails to provide adequate care; or
(2) Knowingly abandons an animal in any place without making provisions for its adequate care.
2. The offense of animal neglect is a class C misdemeanor unless the person has previously been found guilty of an offense under this section, or an offense in another jurisdiction which would constitute an offense under this section, in which case it is a class B misdemeanor.
3. All fines and penalties for a first finding of guilt under this section may be waived by the court if the person found guilty of animal neglect shows that adequate, permanent remedies for the neglect have been made. Reasonable costs incurred for the care and maintenance of neglected animals may not be waived. This section shall not apply to the provisions of section 578.007 or chapter 272.
4. In addition to any other penalty imposed by this section, the court may order a person found guilty of animal neglect to pay all reasonable costs and expenses necessary for:
(1) The care and maintenance of neglected animals within the person's custody or ownership;
(2) The disposal of any dead or diseased animals within the person's custody or ownership;
(3) The reduction of resulting organic debris affecting the immediate area of the neglect; and
(4) The avoidance or minimization of any public health risks created by the neglect of the animals.
(L. 1983 S.B. 211 § 3, A.L. 1994 S.B. 545, A.L. 1998 S.B. 596, A.L. 2013 S.B. 9, A.L. 2014 S.B. 491)
*578.011. Animal trespass, penalty. -- 1. A person is guilty of animal trespass if a person having ownership or custody of an animal knowingly fails to provide adequate control for a period equal to or exceeding twelve hours.
2. Animal trespass is an infraction upon first conviction and for each offense punishable by a fine not to exceed two hundred dollars, and a class C misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment or a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars, or both, upon the second and all subsequent convictions. All fines for a first conviction of animal trespass may be waived by the court provided that the person found guilty of animal trespass shows that adequate, permanent remedies for trespass have been made. Reasonable costs incurred for the care and maintenance of trespassing animals may not be waived. This section shall not apply to the provisions of section 578.007 or sections 272.010 to 272.370.
(L. 2013 S.B. 9)
*Effective 10-11-13, see § 21.250. S.B. 9 was vetoed July 2, 2013. The veto was overridden on September 11, 2013.
578.012. Animal abuse — penalties. -- 1. A person commits the offense of animal abuse if he or she:
(1) Intentionally or purposely kills an animal in any manner not allowed by or expressly exempted from the provisions of sections 578.005 to 578.023 and 273.030;
(2) Purposely or intentionally causes injury or suffering to an animal; or
(3) Having ownership or custody of an animal knowingly fails to provide adequate care which results in substantial harm to the animal.
2. Animal abuse is a class A misdemeanor, unless the defendant has previously been found guilty of animal abuse or the suffering involved in subdivision (2) of subsection 1 of this section is the result of torture or mutilation consciously inflicted while the animal was alive, in which case it is a class E felony.
(L. 1983 S.B. 211 § 4, A.L. 1994 S.B. 545, A.L. 1996 S.B. 491, A.L. 2001 S.B. 462, A.L. 2013 S.B. 9, A.L. 2014 S.B. 491)
"Willfully" is an essential element of the offense of animal abuse and distinguishes it from the offense of animal neglect. State v. Price, 772 S.W.2d 9. (Mo.App.E.D.)
578.016. Impoundment of animal found off property of owner or custodian, disposition, procedure — liability of owner or custodian for costs — lien — rights of owner or custodian. -- 1. Any duly authorized public health official, law enforcement official, or animal control officer may impound any animal found outside of the owned or rented property of the owner or custodian of such animal when such animal shows evidence of neglect or abuse. Any animal impounded pursuant to this section shall be:
(1) If the owner can be ascertained and the animal is not diseased or disabled beyond recovery for any useful purpose, held for recovery by the owner. The owner shall be notified within five business days of impoundment by phone or by mail of the animal's location and recovery procedures. The animal shall be held for ten business days. An animal unclaimed after ten business days may be put up for adoption or humanely killed;
(2) Placed in the care or custody of a veterinarian, the appropriate animal control authority or animal shelter. The animal shall not be disposed of, unless diseased or disabled beyond recovery for any useful purpose, until after expiration of a minimum of five business days, during which time the public shall have clear access to inspect or recover the animal through time periods ordinarily accepted as usual business hours. After five business days, the animal may be put up for adoption or humanely killed; or
(3) If diseased or disabled beyond recovery for any useful purpose as determined by a public health official, law enforcement official, veterinarian or animal control officer, humanely killed.
2. The owner or custodian of an animal impounded pursuant to this section shall be liable for reasonable costs for the care and maintenance of the animal. Any person incurring reasonable costs for the care and maintenance of such animal shall have a lien against such animal until the reasonable costs have been paid and may put up for adoption or humanely kill any animal if such costs are not paid within ten days after demand. Any moneys received for an animal adopted pursuant to this subsection in excess of costs shall be paid to the owner of such animal.
3. The owner or custodian of any animal killed pursuant to this section shall be entitled to recover the actual value of the animal up to but not to exceed six hundred dollars if the owner or custodian shows that such killing was unwarranted.
(L. 1983 S.B. 211 § 6)
In Missouri, as well as most of the nation, this is enough for your dog. Has a shelter (inadequate at best), and has food and water provided.