UK people - if horse picked up neglected, rights of ownership?
Hi, just asking out of interest as we were in this situation a while ago.
We found a horse loose on the side of a dual carriageway, phoned the police several times as the said they would come and didn't. Eventually they said they had driven past and not seen him on the road (as we had taken him onto the verge and had an old bag handle we had found round his neck!) they basicallly weren't responsible. Then they said they had found the owner and the owner would be there in 20 mins. Over an hour later we went and got out horsebox and took him home. As soon as he was settled in stable we called the RSPCA and then Redwings. RSPCA said they could come and look at him the next day. Late that evening we recieved a call from the neighboring county's police (not the one we had dealt with already) saying we had been reported for stealing a horse, we explained the situation and they left us alone. The RSPCA came and checked him, saying he was neglected (he had mites, matted fur and underweight) but not neglected enough to prosecute if the owners came forwards. The owners were contacted and a couple of days later the RSPCA guy came and took him to their field, with a 7 day follow up to get him veterinary care.
What I am basically wondering, is if the owner had not come forward, would we have been legally able to keep him, or would the RSPCA or similar had to have taken him.
Thanks and sorry it is a bit long!