When we last checked in with the Town of Islip Animal Shelter in NY, it was to report on one of the employees there pocketing hundreds of dollars in cash from a pet owner who wanted to rehome her two little dogs. Instead of taking the dogs to the shelter as promised, the employee tied one dog up in a garbage bag and left her in a dumpster while turning the other pet loose on the street. He was charged with felony animal cruelty. I don’t know the status on that case. This week, the Town of Islip Animal Shelter again made the news and again, not in a good way.
The owners of an eight year old King Charles Cavalier called Lucky had to leave the country to care for a terminally ill family member. They left Lucky with a dog sitter but he somehow got lost and was taken to the Islip facility. The dog sitter attempted to reclaim the dog but was turned away. Friends of the family also attempted to intervene but they too were refused. At issue was proof of ownership:
The shelter released a statement on its Facebook page Monday, saying “Since the dog has no form of ID, no tags or microchip, their is no proof of ownership. Legally we have to put the dog up for adoption after being held for 5 days if no owner steps up.”
According to the Islip Animal Shelter, to properly claim one’s dog the owner needs to go to the shelter in person with photo ID and proof of ownership. The owner should also have veterinary information, medical records and family photos.
While this sounds like a fair policy in general, it seems obvious that not everyone is going to be able to meet all these requirements – especially if the person reclaiming the pet is a temporary caretaker and the actual owners are on another continent. Each individual case should be processed with due consideration given to the circumstances at hand.
Lucky’s owners called the shelter to plead for their pet’s return but to no avail. The shelter’s statement verifies that staff did speak with the owners:
“We do know who the owner is, and that they are out of the country. They have been contacted and they have been made aware that the dog will be put up for adoption and placed with a good home.”
What the effing eff? How is this not just plain evil? We know who the owner is but screw them, they just pay our salaries. And screw the dog too. We’re going to break up this family. Because that’s what animal sheltering is all about.
I can’t help but notice that Lucky is a purebred dog of a very popular breed. It makes me wonder if Islip is one of those places that charges extra for certain “high demand” pets. Is Islip this stringent on proof of ownership for every mangy shepherd mix and lame pitbull whose owners or caretakers try to reclaim them?
Lucky’s friends contacted the local news which aired a story and made the rounds on social media. Public outcry was swift. And the next day, the shelter was shamed into returning Lucky to his caretaker. Thank you irresponsible public for demanding the Islip shelter workers do their jobs and for advocating for Lucky while he was being held prisoner by these people.
What the hell goes on at the Islip facility when the news cameras are not around? How many other owned pets have been stolen by Islip? I bet every heartbroken owner who ever lost a pet in this town and resigned themselves to life without their family member is now wondering if Islip might have had their animal. Something is seriously wrong with this place.
(Thanks to everyone who sent me this story.)