Discussion: Lost CA Sheltie Adopted by New Owners

An elderly couple whose lost Sheltie got picked up by Stockton Animal Services in December was pulled by a rescue group then adopted while the owners were still searching for her.  The new owners, who had Tipsy for around 2 weeks by the time Mr. and Mrs. Robinson found out what had happened to their pet of 8 years, are refusing to give her back.

[Sharon] Robinson was 10 days too late, and the new family was already in love with Tipsy.
“I just want… I want her back,” she said.
She’s heartbroken and has even offered the new adoptive family a refund for Tipsy’s adoption fee. They have declined.
“They’ve loved her for a little over two weeks. I’ve loved her for eight and a half years.”

Mrs. Robinson still has the pedigree that came with Tipsy when she was a puppy. She searched for her to the best of her knowledge and ability, even when she was sick. She is heartbroken and can not talk about Tipsy without crying. Although it’s impossible to know how Tipsy is feeling, it would be hard to imagine she is not missing the only family she ever knew.

Setting all this aside for the moment, I found this troubling:

We also reached out to the city of Stockton’s Animal Services. They declined an on-camera interview. The animal services department is now investigating Tipsy’s case to see if the proper protocol was followed.

The pound doesn’t know if proper procedures were followed? And they won’t discuss the case? Not good.

Back to Tipsy’s ownership:  On the one hand, Mrs. Robinson certainly presents a reasonable case that Tipsy was well cared for and loved by her family.  I don’t think the new owners would have any worries about her quality of life if Tipsy was returned.  On the other hand, the new owners had a Sheltie who died recently and found Tipsy, whom they were told was a stray and that no owner had claimed her.  They adopted her in good faith and instantly fell in love with her, something I think we all can relate to.  Getting a new pet helps some owners in the grieving process and perhaps Tipsy has been providing much needed comfort to the new owners.

What would you do if you had adopted Tipsy under these circumstances?  Mrs. Robinson says she may hire an attorney.  That might not be a bad idea, especially considering that the pound doesn’t know if proper procedures were followed (which opens up the possibility that Tipsy was not held for the legally mandated holding period and therefore not eligible for release to the rescue group in the first place).  I would hate to see a lengthy court battle in this situation, or any pet custody situation really.  What other options might exist for the Robinsons?

(Thanks Anne for the link.)

Lost Pets in Michigan Lose State Protection

The distressingly bad and wealthy Michigan InHumane has been trying for years to get legislation changed to reduce and eliminate mandatory holding periods for lost pets in shelters.  (And when MHS hasn’t gotten its way, it just blatantly ignores the law.)  Its current proposed bill is terrible.

mi hb4915

Portion of terrible HB 4915 in Michigan.

Unfortunately, the state department of agriculture recently caved on the issue and announced it will no longer enforce the law regarding mandatory holding periods in shelters.

Meanwhile, Michigan rescue groups continue to import shelter pets from the south, citing “no pressing need” to help locally.

If you are a Michigan resident, please take action to protect lost pets from being abandoned or killed by your local shelter before their owners have a chance to find them.

(Thanks Clarice.)

NJ Pound Kills Owned, Microchipped Cat Upon Impound

Photo from the Justice for Moe page on Facebook.

Photo from the Justice for Moe page on Facebook.

Warning:  There are images of a deceased cat at the links.  They are not graphic but still very sad.

***

In 2013, an engaged couple adopted a kitten from a NJ shelter and named him Moe. They completed the adoption paperwork jointly.  After the couple separated, Moe remained with owner Stephanie Radlinger. Moe’s microchip contact information was for Ms. Radlinger’s ex-fiance Mike Sedges. So when Moe got lost and was impounded by the Gloucester Co pound on September 30, it was Mr. Sedges who received the call from the microchip company. He gave them Ms. Radlinger’s contact information and the company left a message for her right away. Then things got weird:

Sedges said a shelter worker called him the same morning, instructed him to come to the shelter to identify Moe, and either take him home or surrender the animal to the shelter.

If he failed to do either within seven days, he would be charged with animal neglect, Sedges claims an animal control officer told him.

By 10:30 a.m., he was in Clayton filling out paperwork and paying the $10 surrender fee. Sedges was of the understanding surrendering the cat to the shelter would make it easier for Radlinger to readopt the cat, he claimed.

[…]

“When I was in the room with the cat it seemed like the same nice animal, a little skinnier, but it was rolling on its back and stretching and being a goofball,” Sedges claimed.

That afternoon, Ms. Radlinger picked up the message from the pound and immediately called to reclaim her cat.  She says a staff member instructed her to complete an adoption application and, if approved, pay $95 to adopt her own cat.  She did as she was told.  But Moe was already dead – killed by the shelter staff for behavior.  NJ law requires shelters to hold all animals for at least 7 days.  Moe was held for less than one.  Ms. Radlinger is heartbroken:

“The situation doesn’t make sense to me,” Radlinger, of Stratford, told the Courier-Post. “I thought the microchip was the safeguard against these things.”

Yeah, so they like to say.

Gloucester Co spokeswoman Debra Sellitto told the local paper that killing Moe “wasn’t a random decision.” That would seem to be true since last year, the Gloucester Co pound killed roughly 70% of its cats. Hard to call that random. More like Killing R Us.

Ms. Sellitto has more excuses in her hat too:

The shelter based ownership on the microchip information, according to Sellitto.

However, a microchip does not prove ownership under New Jersey law.

Oops. So that’s two violations of state law. Back to the hat:

“Since this incident, the animal shelter is going to be reviewing its procedures. If something is found to have been done improperly, staff persons will be dealt with accordingly,” Sellitto said.

IF something was done improperly?  Does she mean besides the two violations of state law?  Sounds like Gloucester Co looks out for its own.  Has anyone checked under the sidewalks and parking lots lately?

Anyhoo, the Gloucester Co pound apparently felt this whole story was lacking in awful so they rectified that:

On Oct. 2, 24 hours after Moe was euthanized, shelter staff notified Radlinger by phone she was fit to adopt from the shelter.

She declined.

“I just wanted my cat they already put down.”

Oh hey, we killed your cat but we’ll let you buy another one.  Good things cats are interchangeable.  Otherwise shelter staff might have been embarrassed and ashamed to make that phone call.

Ms. Radlinger is sharing her story on social media in order to raise awareness about needless killings at the Gloucester Co pound.  She is reportedly considering a lawsuit against the facility.  I wish her all the luck in the world.

(Thank you for the links Clarice.)

NY Shelter Refuses to Return Elderly Lost Dog to Family

Manson, as pictured on the CBS 6 website.

Manson, as pictured on the CBS 6 website.

When Alysha VanDyke’s 13 year old min pin slipped his collar and got lost last month, she began looking for him but there were no sightings of the dog, named Manson, for weeks. She thought that because of his advanced age and poor health, Manson may have gone off to die. But then a friend saw a posting on Facebook of a dog being offered for adoption by the Animal Shelter of Schoharie Valley. The dog looked like Manson so the friend alerted his family:

“We were like, ‘Oh my God here he is!’ And we thought that this was the greatest ending and everyone would be happy. Only to find out that was not so,” VanDyke said.

VanDyke says the Animal Shelter of Schoharie Valley refused to give her dog back when she called and then showed up at the shelter the very next day.

“It felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach. It’s like he’s here but I can’t see him? And now I can’t have him?” VanDyke said.

Ms. VanDyke says she showed photos of Manson to the shelter as proof of ownership. But shelter staff told her she wouldn’t be getting her dog back because he wasn’t neutered and therefore she’s obviously a crummy owner. Then they called the cops and had her escorted out of the place. The local CBS affiliate has repeatedly contacted the shelter and its attorney but their only response has been: Hide.

The shelter did post on Facebook about the situation with Manson. They basically say it’s the stupid owner’s fault she didn’t get her dog back because:

  • Didn’t reclaim him fast enough.
  • Not licensed.
  • The proof of ownership she provided was unacceptable.

Also, if the owner does somehow provide the sort of proof of ownership they fancy (while she’s being taken away by police, I guess), she’ll have to pay the extensive vet bills they’ve run up on the dog in addition to the other fees they charge.  Meanwhile, a feeble old dog is sitting in a shelter while his family is waiting for him at home.

So yeah the mandatory holding period expired.  But the shelter knows who the owners are NOW, knows they want their pet back, and knows how hard it is for old dogs removed from their home environment.  Why would you call the cops on someone trying to reclaim their pet – because they didn’t neuter the dog?  Why not use the opportunity to educate the owners, get the dog back home and look like heroes to the public?  Keeping the dog under these circumstances is just ugly.  I guess HIDE sounds like a reasonable plan for the shelter at this juncture.

(Thanks Clarice and Jan for the links.)

Nashville Pound Kills Owned Dog with Rescue Hold

Sadie Mae, as shown on the WKRN website.

Sadie Mae, as shown on the WKRN website.

When Sadie Mae got lost late last month in Nashville, her family began looking for her.  Sadie Mae’s 6 year old girl made these posters to tack onto phone poles in the neighborhood:

Photo via WKRN website.

Photo via WKRN website.

Owner Janet Mabry checked lost and found pet postings on social media and came across a listing for Sadie Mae on a Saturday. Someone had found her and taken her to the Nashville pound the previous Thursday, placing a rescue hold on the dog if she went unclaimed.

The pound was closed at the time Ms. Mabry saw the listing for Sadie Mae and did not re-open until Tuesday morning. Ms. Mabry called to reclaim her pet as soon as the pound opened on Tuesday but was told Sadie Mae had been killed by staff:

“She kept saying her time was up, her time was up,” said Mabry.

The Nashville pound had held Sadie Mae for the minimum 3 day stray hold then killed her immediately after it expired. The director, Lauren Bluestone, told WKRN that Sadie Mae had been given a temperament test and failed the portion on dog aggression so: Kill. Immediately. The owner says her pet was sweet and had never exhibited any signs of aggression. The director also wants it noted that the owner is a slob and it’s all her fault the dog is dead anyway because:

  • Didn’t file a lost pet report.
  • Didn’t leave a message at the pound while it was closed.
  • Didn’t have the dog tagged or microchipped.

And as far as the finder who placed a rescue hold on Sadie Mae, it sounds like she’s a slob too:

“If truly what she had said was a miscommunication on our part as far as a rescue hold,” said Bluestone. “I’m getting two conflicting sides.”

Metro said it has nothing in writing to verify if there was a hold on the dog.

So many shady people wanting to keep dogs alive in Nashville, sounds like. Thank goodness the Nashville pound director is on duty to administer tests and monitor that 3 day hold clock and mete out punishment to keep everyone in line.

(Thanks Clarice and Arlene for the links.)

Shelter Sold Owned, Microchipped Lost Dog to Strangers While Owner Searched

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.)

The Irresponsible Public Comes Through When Pound Manager Fails to Protect the Human-Animal Bond

Last year the Everett Animal Shelter in Washington “rescued” 110 cats and kittens from a 32 foot trailer and killed them all.  And the response to panleukopenia at the facility has been mass killing.  It’s not a good place for cats.

Kali, as pictured on the website of the Everett Herald.

Kali, as pictured on the website of the Everett Herald.

Lisa Shelly, an area resident, has been struggling to keep her family together.  Her husband suffers from some very serious medical issues and she has been unable to find work.  The family lost their apartment 2 years ago along with most of their personal possessions.  They’ve been living in week-to-week motels and do not have a car.  At Christmas, all Ms. Shelly’s 9 year old son Ronan wanted was a kitten.  His Christmas wish came true and he named her Kali.

Kali recently got out through an open window and Ms. Shelly began looking for her immediately.  She eventually learned that Kali had been impounded by the Everett Animal Shelter.  Ms. Shelly went to the pound to reclaim Kali but was told she’d have to pay $205 to get her pet back.  She didn’t have the money:

“I had to come home without her,” Shelly said, and tell her son she couldn’t get Kali back. “He cried so hard.”

When contacted by the local paper, the pound manager was all about the law:

Dee Cordell, the operations coordinator for the Everett Animal Shelter, said $165 of the fee is charged by Snohomish County, because Kali came from an unincorporated part of the county. The remainder covers the shelter’s costs of getting the cat spayed, vaccinated and tagged with an identification chip.

“By law cats need to be licensed. Since the cat was not spayed and not chipped, the fee is $40,” Cordell said.

A local blogger pointed out that under the Everett municipal code, the manager is “authorized to reduce or waive any fee” except the licensing fee.

But since the manager was apparently uninterested in getting Kali back with her boy, Ms. Shelly enlisted the help of a friend to set up a donation page for the redemption fee.  After the story ran in the local paper, people began donating.  And they continued to give, long after the $205 was raised.  Because irresponsible public.

Thank you once again to the unwashed masses for protecting the human-animal bond, getting a beloved pet reunited with her family and for generally being an alright sort.  Now if Everett taxpayers had some people like that working at the shelter, the community might really shine.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

NC Dog Owner Files Lawsuit for Return of Her Pet Sold by County Pound

Bobo, as pictured on the WRAL website.

Bobo, as pictured on the WRAL website.

A lawsuit has been filed by a dog owner against Cumberland Co and the couple who bought her dog from the county pound, despite all parties knowing the dog had an owner who wanted him back.  The lawsuit provides a detailed timeline of events but I’ll provide a summary.

Bobo the golden retriever wandered away from his home on January 21, was found by a Good Sam and taken to the Cumberland Co pound.  The Good Sam said he would take Bobo back after the mandatory 3 day holding period if no one claimed the dog because he felt certain there was a local owner due to Bobo’s excellent condition and manners.

Meanwhile Bobo’s owner was physically searching for her family’s lost pet and networking with neighbors, including the local fire department.  Through the owner’s efforts, the Good Sam was made aware of her name and address while he was on his way to pick up Bobo from the pound on January 26.  He stopped by the owner’s residence but she was not home at the time.  He left his card and called the pound to advise he was on his way and to provide them with the owner’s name and address.  The staffer he spoke with told him if he didn’t arrive within the next 10 minutes – when the 3 day holding period expired – the dog would be sold to someone else.  The good Sam arrived at the pound 12 minutes later and found a man there in the process of adopting Bobo.  The Good Sam explained again to pound staff that the dog’s owner was known and told the potential adopter as well.  The adopter said he could provide a better home for Bobo than the actual owner and decided to move forward with the adoption, which the staff agreed to process.

State law and Cumberland Co code require pound staff to make reasonable efforts to contact the owner of an impounded pet, which the lawsuit alleges the county did not do.  And:

Like many shelters, Cumberland County gives owners three business days to claim a pet from the shelter. A county ordinance requires that timeline be extended another 72 hours “if the owner is known.”

The lawsuit alleges that the county only held Bobo for the initial 3 day period then ignored information regarding the owner’s identity and sold him improperly.  Bobo’s family is heartbroken and tried to get their dog back without resorting to legal action but both the county and the couple who bought Bobo ignored communication from the family’s attorney.  The couple reportedly stated in an email to WRAL that they had narrowly missed out on some previous attempts to adopt other rescue goldens and so placed their name on the list for Bobo.  They further stated that they could not return Bobo to his family “in good conscience” because it’s not in the dog’s “best interest”.

While the buyers seem to vaguely allude to some perceived lack of fitness upon the part of Bobo’s owners, the county was more specific, and in typical fashion, and put the blame for Bobo’s loss on the family:

“Cumberland County Animal Control followed its procedures in dealing with the stray dog dropped off at the Animal Shelter with no identifying tags or microchip. The impounded animal was not claimed by its owner after the required three-day holding period and no owner’s name or address was provided to the department. The dog then became available for adoption and we followed our procedures for that process.

“It is upsetting to lose a pet and we sympathize with the Davis family. We encourage pet owners to have their animals microchipped. All pet owners should make sure their pets are wearing proper vaccination and identifying tags. Should your pet go missing, contact or visit Animal Control immediately.”

Although it’s not 100% clear to me, it sounds as if the county may be denying the Good Sam provided Bobo’s owner information over the phone within the 3 day holding period and that when he arrived at the pound to provide it again, he was 2 minutes past the holding period and the county was within its legal rights to sell the dog.  And despite the county’s obvious attempt to smear the owners, the worst they could come up with is an implication that the owners failed to have tags on the dog (which is denied in the lawsuit).

It seems obvious what the right thing is here.  It should have been obvious to both the county and the buyer at the time the adoption was being processed.  Cumberland Co killed 63% of the dogs and cats it took in last year so perhaps it’s not surprising to learn that staff failed to do right by a pet in its care.  I don’t know what the buyers’ excuse is except for the fact that they didn’t get some previous rescue goldens they wanted and were apparently determined to get this one, even if he didn’t need rescuing.  The pettiness and mean-spiritedness from both the county and the buyers is shameful.  And poor Bobo has been needlessly separated from his family all these months.

Bobo’s owner is seeking his return in the lawsuit.  If the court rules in her favor, perhaps Cumberland Co will think twice next time about breaking up a family.  One hopes anyway.  Watch this space.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Family Believes NC Pound Illegally Killed Their Lost Cat

Burley, as pictured on the WCNC website.

Burley, as pictured on the WCNC website.

The Caldwell Co pound in NC is a cat killing machine.  In 2014, the pound killed 94% of the 1448 cats it impounded.  The facility’s website states that owners can look for their lost pets on Petfinder (and emphasizes the pound staff does not want owners calling the place).  But when I clicked through to Petfinder, it said no animals were listed.  The website does have 3 cats listed as adoptable but none have photos.  They’re doing the best they can, prolly.

When the family of a lost cat named Burley found out their pet had been impounded by the Caldwell Co pound the day before Good Friday, the staff had already gone home for the long holiday weekend.  Burley’s family went to the Caldwell Co pound when it reopened on Monday to inquire about him and were shown paperwork on 5 cats – 1 of whom matched Burley’s description.  When they went to look at the caged cats, 3 of the 5 cats were missing, including Burley.

Burley’s family believe he was killed by staff at the Caldwell Co pound.  But the director told a local news reporter that he thinks the cat escaped his cage somehow and then the building.  Somehow.  No word on whether the other 2 “missing” cats were also in on this great escape.

Burley’s owners consider him family and believe the people paid to protect him killed him in violation of the mandatory holding period, then fabricated a story to cover up their wrongdoing.  I can’t help wondering about the 1354 cats killed by the Caldwell Co pound last year.  How many of them had owners who wanted them back, just like Burley?  How many were held for the mandatory holding period – is anyone monitoring that?  Where are the other 2 cats who were discovered “missing” along with Burley?  How many owners of lost cats in Caldwell Co suffered heartbreak, never knowing what happened to their pets, and are now contemplating what tragic ends they may have met at the pound?

Caldwell Co taxpayers must demand better from their pound.  As it stands, they are funding a cat extermination facility.

(Thanks Clarice and Arlene for the link.)

The War on Cats: Arizona Edition

sb1260az

Portion of SB 1260 in Arizona

SB 1260 is currently awaiting the signature of Arizona Governor Doug Ducey.  If signed into law, the bill would eliminate the mandatory holding period for cats lacking “discernable identification” who are found outdoors and brought to a county pound.  Those cats, including lost pets whose owners are looking for them and friendly, socialized cats who could be adopted, would be neutered, vaccinated, and dumped back on the street immediately after impound.

This bill serves to destroy the human-animal bond by breaking up families when owned cats get lost.  Taxpayer funded shelters are the very institutions which should be fighting to protect that bond, not trampling it.  It also endangers friendly cats who may lack the necessary skills to survive outdoors and should be adopted to a home.  The bill says eligible cats must be “living outdoors” but there is no way for a county pound to make this determination in most cases.  A friendly cat who is socialized to humans in fact may have lived indoors, even if he was found outside.  Further, the bill discriminates against cat owners by treating them as second class citizens behind dog owners, whose pets will still be protected by mandatory holding periods.

And finally, I can’t help but think of all the cats run through the spay mill at the Maricopa Co pound, who will be dumped back on the street after they wake up from surgery and potentially have their guts fall out in an alley somewhere.  They won’t be counted among Maricopa Co’s official dehiscence stats of course, since no one will ever know about the suffering deaths of these poor cats.

Cats deserve the same protections at our public animal shelters as dogs.  Cat owners love their pets just as much as dog owners love theirs.  Shelter staff should be required to do their jobs to reunite lost pets of all species with their owners and adopt socialized homeless pets to new owners.  It is a slippery slope to discriminate against cats while excusing shelter staff from performing their duties for an entire species.  Shame on the organizations who promote and defend this heinous practice.

If you are an Arizona resident and wish to contact Governor Ducey to demand equal protections for cats and dogs in public shelters, keep your comments respectful and visit this page for contact information.

(Thanks Anne for the link.)

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