I want to say you should probably have called the police or contacted some sort of animal services before drawing your own conclusions and giving their dog away.
Not really, #1. If you contact animal control, or something like that, the dog would be taken to an animal shelter. And if the dog isn't a puppy, chances are it wouldn't be adopted and it'd stay there until it was euthanized. Sad, but true. Thank goodness the OP knew someone who could take it.
Pets whose homes are being inspected are not euthanized.
If the home was found unsuitable and the pet removed to a shelter, OP's friend could have adopted them then.
I can't support someone going vigilante and giving other people's pets away without any sort of due process.
While I agree with what you are saying, the fact that they did not care enough to attempt to even look for a runaway dog speaks a great deal to me. I think due process is the way to go, but I can't and won't fault someone for stepping up and rescuing an abused animal.
Keep in mind, we're only hearing OP's side of the story. Naturally, OP will make themselves look like the best party and the cousins to look terrible to support OP's allegations. OP admits to giving their dog away, but we have to take the claim that the cousins are terrible pet owners with a pinch of salt.
you are my new hero. i want to thank you for your actions. be proud of yourself!
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