More on Annie: Doing What’s Right

Assuming Annie the Australian Shepherd is fortunate enough to live a normal lifespan and succumb to old age somewhere down the road, she’s at about the halfway point in her life.  In my experience, dogs in general do well adjusting to new owners, new environments and new lives.  But this is the fall back plan for a dog who finds himself in need of a new home, it is not the first choice for a dog who already has a good home.

Annie does not need a new life.  She was apparently happy and well cared for by her original owner.  Sure, he could have done a better job protecting her from loss and searching for her when she got lost but heck, there have been a few times when hindsight has made me look slightly shabby myself.  I feel for the guy.

I feel for the new owners too.  Taking a new dog into your home is a big deal.  You don’t do it lightly or without a sense of commitment.  The hardest part is the beginning – teaching the dog what’s expected of him in his new life.  The new owners made a commitment to Annie and were probably knee deep in the hard part when suddenly – ring-a-ling – the shelter calls and wants them to return the dog.  That would suck.  No doubt about it.

If it was me, I’d like to meet the original owner.  I’d like to have him over for coffee and talk to him about Annie.  I’d want to feel reassured that he did indeed take good care of her, that he’s learned a lesson from what has happened and will make his best effort to never let it happen again.  Then I’d like to let Annie in to see him.  I’d like to see how Annie reacts to him and how he is with her.  If I got all good vibes, I think I could let her go.

After all, I thought I was saving Annie, but now I know Annie doesn’t need saving.  But there are plenty of other dogs at the shelter who do.  Even though it would be difficult for me to say goodbye to Annie, I’d try to look at it like this:  I get to be the hero for Annie and her original owner today, and tomorrow I get to be the hero for another dog who truly needs rescuing from the shelter.  Yay me.

As of yesterday, the new owners still refuse to return Annie to her original owner.  I hope they reconsider.  If nothing else, I would hope they would give the owner a get acquainted meeting out of respect for the fact that he is at least partly responsible for Annie being such a great dog that they don’t want to give her up after knowing her for such a short time.

5 thoughts on “More on Annie: Doing What’s Right

  1. It is my understanding that at this point previous owner and current owner don’t know who each other are. Shelter staff are the only ones who know both parties. Here in my neighborhood, Animal Control is a government service. Their legal department recommends keeping the link between relinquisher (loser in this case) and adopter broken.
    The legal mistake was made by Animal Control. They called the previous owner when, in fact, they’d already sold his dog to somebody else!
    Now, granted, perhaps the best thing (in a humane world) would be for the two parties that theoretically love Annie the Aussie to come together and discuss this situation.
    But that would mean that the shelter that made the mistake would have to intervene FURTHER, and if they are anything like our Animal Control, they will not go there! (Government and big business has a strong CYA for humans…push comes to shove, the animals will lose if they can save face for the people.)
    But, if the new owners are already unwilling to consider returning the lost dog they mistakenly adopted because the shelter let them, then imagine all the negative scenarios that can ensue if the previous owner and the new adopter are put in contact with each other?
    Okay, maybe it wouldn’t have to all be negative…but I could see where the two families would bond over this incident and “go after” the shelter for bungling this case and hurting EVERYBODY!
    Or, worse case scenario, the previous owners stalks and harasses the new adopter. At what point does somebody get over something like this? (I know, if it were me, never.) But this sort of “one baby, two mothers” parable isn’t new. Eventually, one caring person has to be willing to let go in order for the dog to be happy.

    Unless they decide to have joint custody–which I have done quite often—it’s called a lifetime take-back guarantee, but the current party needs to exercise the option, and with this sort of a sour start, I don’t see that happening. Especially not if the two parties can only communicate through the liable shelter.

  2. If this was one of my dogs–which is possible, because as I have mentioned here before I have an “explorer” who is chipped, tagged, etc etc–I would not stop my hunt at the County denying me contact. I would facebook and email and post signs and hunt those people down. Offer a reward! SLO is not that big of a town, it could be done. Hell if I had to, I’d get a lawyer (and I can not afford one, but I would figure it out).

    Especially at this point, time is of the essence. The longer it takes to find the owners the harder its going to be to get the dog out of their hands.

    I guess my point is I would go to the ends of the earth to get my dogs back, shelter conduct aside…

  3. The article states they are looking into options to keep this from happening again. What about a microchipping clinic for the community? And they ought to make sure that all dogs adopted out at the shelter are microchipped.

  4. All dogs adopted from ASD are microchipped before they leave the shelter, as well as spay/neutered and licensed for a year. They are vaccinated on intake. This costs the adoptor $120.00 plus they get a nice collar with a tag, and the office visit charge (40 bucks, give or take) for a first vet check is waived by all vets in the county. The shelter will microchip dogs for the community as well for, I believe, 20 dollars. They also occassionally do microchipping at events in the community. Despite what is being written, and despite fallibility and imperfection, San Luis Obispo’s county pound is a pretty progressive public shelter when compared to most public pounds in this country, with one of the lower euthanasia rates in the U.S. for a public open-entry (can’t say “we’re full”) facility. I am so sorry for what happened with Annie, I’m not really sure what happened exactly, there was apparently a missed lost dog report somewhere unfortunately. But for so many people, not just in our community, but across the country to assume this facility is some backward, mid-evil, heartless incompetent peice of crap shelter–well, it’s just way the off the mark. Is it perfect? Nope. But compared to the “shelters” that get written about so often on Yes Biscuit, it’s a slice of heaven.

  5. Dear YesBiscuit, I really like your opinion here. To me, it comes down to just how important the dogs feeling are as opposed to your own. Yes, the shelter made a mistake. But if that’s not a typical problem there, I wouldn’t fault them, unless they consider their policies more important than fixing their mistake, which may be the case. Yes, the original owner might have done some things to prevent this but, given the situation as is, one really needs to ask what is the “right thing” to do here.

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