Jingle and Toby, a pair of Schnauzers owned by Anita Sloan in Bedford, Texas, wandered away when someone accidentally left a gate open at the family’s home. Ms. Sloan raised the pair from pups and considers them family. She began searching for them immediately, hoping the microchip she had implanted in Jingle would help the family get reunited.
Ms. Sloan visited Bedford Animal Services but did not find her pets. She was given a lengthy list of shelters to search. She dutifully visited each one although there was some confusion about the two shelters in Keller:
Sloan explains she visited all but one shelter in Keller. The number printed for the shelter on the list she has, got her nowhere.
“The person you are trying to reach is not available,” a recording says when she dials the number.
The city apparently has two shelters: Keller Animal Services and Keller Regional Adoption Center. As it turns out, Jingle and Toby had been picked up by police and left at Keller Animal Services. The city says it checked both dogs for chips but found none. After the mandatory holding period, the dogs were transferred to the Keller Regional Adoption Center which is run by the HS of North Texas. Staff there did detect Jingle’s chip but sold the dogs to a new owner anyway. Because it’s not their job to return dogs to owners:
“At that particular facility we don’t handle lost and found animals. We just handle adoptions,” says Whitney Hanson, Director of Development & Communications.
Hanson explains that the facility would have only been looking at finding homes for the pets since Keller Animal Services had already processed the animals.
The Humane Society of North Texas says there is no existing system that allows all municipalities to communicate.
There is no existing system which allows all municipalities to communicate. Fair enough. But the HS knew Jingle was chipped. Finding that chip should have prompted the HS to check the transfer paperwork and see if Keller Animal Services had followed up on the chip and what the outcome was. The HS had an obligation to verify that the chip was a dead end before proceeding. A statewide communication system is not required for that – just a phone call or email to Keller Animal Services to ask about the chip’s status.
And while it may not be the Humane Society’s job to return animals to their owners, common sense would dictate that a pair of schnauzers, typically a professionally groomed breed purchased from a breeder, aren’t walking the streets because they are homeless and just happened to meet each other in an alley and decided to pal around. There would be every reason to suspect Jingle and Toby were owned, likely by the person who registered the chip, whom the HS never bothered to call.
Jingle and Toby are now living with people in Houston. The HS of North Texas says that “according to Texas law, the schnauzers are the legal property of their new owners”. The situation has been explained to the new owners and Ms. Sloan has offered to reimburse them for any expenses if they would return her family members. They are reportedly considering what to do with the dogs.
Keller Animal Services failed to detect a lost dog’s microchip. The HS of Texas detected the chip but made no effort to find out if Keller Animal Services had attempted to reach the registered owner. The city says no one is at fault. The situation looks bad. It looks like the first shelter is either incompetent or lying and the second shelter is a money-grubbing doggie retail outfit where no one could be bothered to slow down in the rush to sell a bonded pair of little purebred dogs.
It’s 2015, Keller. Time to step outside the Only This Thing is My Job and I Do Only This Thing box. You may not have a statewide shelter communication system but I’m guessing there is such a thing as phone service in Keller. Shame on everyone involved in the needless break up of this family because apparently no one at either shelter knows what the right thing to do is when it comes to pets.
(Thanks Clarice for the link.)