Dog owner battles shelter over pets

July 28, 2010 3:47:21 PM PDT
Losing a pet can be a traumatic experience, but one Houston woman says after her dogs turned up at a rescue facility things did not get any better. The facility is not giving the dogs back to the owner, and even adopted one of the animals to someone else. The dogs got out of a back yard on July 2. Two weeks later the owner found them on the Internet, but the rescue shelter that has the dogs is not giving them back.

When Daisy Garza's German Shepherds escaped from her back yard she says she looked everywhere for them.

"Put ads online, Facebook, SPCA, Pet Harbor, the Green Sheet as well," she said.

After two weeks, Garza says she managed to locate Nikki and Zeus on a lost pet web site and learned they were at Whiskerville Animal Sanctuary in Texas City. So Garza called the facility.

Garza said, "She said that due to her having them way too long she could not give them to just someone who claimed she lost a dog.")) Garza says she then went to Whiskerville with a Texas City police officer in tow to get her dogs back.

She said, "I offered to pay the adoption fee, any housing fee, for the vaccinations and whatnot and she refused. She told us to leave her place."

Garza says because she already has two other dogs, she could not adopt both her German Shepherds back, so she applied to adopt Zeus, the German Shepherd Garza has had for four years.

We called the owner of Whiskerville Pet Sanctuary and asked why the dogs could not be returned to Garza. Owner Wydell Dixon said the lost dogs had no tags and no way to track down the owner.

Whiskerville's owner also says she spayed one of the German Shepherds and got shots for the dogs. She says the $325 per dog adoption fee stands. Dixon went on to say it is her decision alone on who to adopt a dog to.

KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy said, "The problem here is that if you lose a dog and the shelter picks up a dog, it is the identification of the dog to begin with."

Androphy says because the dogs did not have collars when they were found, they are considered strays.

"If they are strays, we'll take care of them, they are not destroying the strays," Androphy said. "They are taking care of them, putting them up for adoption so they are doing the humane thing."

A note about the German Shepherds in this story -- one has been adopted out, another is close to being adopted.

We talked to state officials about this situation, and they say there are no state laws that apply to giving back a dog to someone if the identification is in doubt. Shelters do have to comply with state laws, but there are no state licenses for them.

If the dog has a tag or a tracking chip, you can prove ownership. Without those tags, we are told it becomes a civil matter and the courts will have to decide.


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