Questions and Topics

Have a question? Want to read about a certain topic? Send an e-mail to:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Do Love Happy Endings

The call I got had actually been closed by another officer. Unable to locate. The call type, Abandoned Dog. When I got there and talked to the home owner's daughter, it turns out this dog is actually a stray.

So the back story.
Apparently, the homeowner had seen a dog in her backyard about a month ago. Then it disappeared. She thought maybe the gardeners had left the gate open and the dog wandered in and then left again. Then a week ago she saw it again. Same dog wandering in her backyard bushes. Again she thought it was the gardeners leaving the gate open and one of her neighbor's dog was getting in again. But then the next day she saw it again. It was the same dog. Then she realized that there is no way the dog could be getting in and out, she had all new fences and there were no hole. The gardeners said nothing to her, so they hadn't seen it. She called ACR to report this dog in her backyard, for a month.
So I met with the homeowner and her oldest daughter and granddaughter. The daughter said once they realized that the dog had been there so long they immediately fed it chicken and rice. The dog was very fearful and wouldn't let anyone close. It stayed behind the thick hedge the ran the entire fence line around the yard, but it was eating and luckily the homeowner regularly had a bucket of water outside for various purposes.
I had a very difficult time due to the thickness of the hedge trying to even see the dog. But then it stopped and I was able to get a look.
The dog was a golden Retriever mix of some kind. Very golden hair, a female looking face and white on "her" chest. The daughter and I took to calling her a "her" just based on her face. She just looked like a girl.
And she looked so familiar to me. I had seen this dog's face before.
Coaxing didn't work too well. She would jut run along the back of the hedge as we called her and tried to get her to come out. My mind was working over where I had seen her before.
Then it hit me. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before. Craigslist.
I asked the daughter if she had Internet access. I explained to her where I had thought I had seen the dog. Her younger sister still lived with their mom and she had a laptop in her room. So we took a break from trying to get the dog out of the hedge and tried t look for the dog on CL.
The daughter found two possible ads. One was from pretty far off, the other was definitely within a few miles. She called the first one and it wasn't the right dog. And unfortunately the ad and picture wouldn't load.
When we went out to try to get their dog out again she actually growled when we got close. Not a nasty growl, just a I'm really scared so back off growl. I hated having to do it, since I knew she was just terrified, but I got my catch pole. The hedges also made it very difficult to get her out, but I finally got her out. She was definitely freaked out. I sat down on a chair and slowly drew her close to me, talking soft and reassuring her I wasn't going to hurt her.Finally I was able to touch her, then pet her. She began to relax a little but she was still scared. I switched the catch pole for a leash. Her neck hair indicated that she had a collar not long ago. The hedges probably removed it.
Once she was a little calmer. We walked her out to my truck where my microchip reader was. The dog was so happy to be out of the backyard that she practically dragged me to the truck. When I opened the door to grabbed the scanner, she jumped in. She was ready to go!
After finally locating a battery, borrowed from my garage door opener, I scanned her. No chip read. A small sense of defeat. I always want it to be easy. It never is.
I wasn't giving up though, and neither was the home owner's daughter. She was going to go home and get on her home computer that she knew worked well. I was going to hope that the microchip reader at the shelter would pick up a chip, as it often does. Our "Halo" readers suck.
The daughter had wanted to take the dog to her house until the owner could be located. But since she was already in my truck, and the daughter lived quite a distance away, I was going to be taking her with me.
It nagged at me through my next call. Since I was close to home I decided to swing by and use my own home computer and look up the ad.
Sure enough. There was her picture. It was 99.9% her. Her name was Sammy and she had been missing a month! She was micro chipped (did I mention my chip reader sucks?).
I tried calling the first phone number provided. The man on the other end said that if this was regarding the CL ad, the number must have been mis-typed. He didn't have a missing dog.
The second number reached a voice message. I left a message.
I got a call from the home owner's daughter. She had found the ad and did the same thing I did. Wit the same results. But she was sure too that this was the dog. Sammy was just chillin in my truck now.
I stopped by one of my favorite vet hospitals after patrolling around the area where the ad had said the dog had been lost. No signs. But it had been a month. I borrowed the vet's chip scanner, one of the old models. Nope. Nothing. The chip reading would have to wait until we got back to the shelter.
I left a couple more messages. It was frustrating being so close to reuniting this dog who had been gone so long, yet not being able to.
I finally got back to the shelter. I scanned the dog and there it was, the microchip! 460 called the Chip company for me while I did a search in our system. Just as she got the info my phone rang. It was the daughter again. She had finally gotten a hold of the owners. She was so excited. The chip info matched the phone number and name of the person who the daughter had talked to.
I called the owner. He was almost speechless when I spoke to him. I told him that if her could get to the shelter before 6pm, I would be able to give him his dog. Otherwise he would have to wait 2 more days since we would be close the next 2 days. To be honest, if he had said he wouldn't be able to be there until 7, I would ha ve waited. I gave him my cell number and told him to call when he arrived.
At 5:50pm I got the call. they were here. 460 and I loaded Sammy up in the truck and drove out the gate to meet the owners.
Sammy was a completely different dog when she got out of that truck. She was jumping, no, springing! with joy. Wiggling and whining not knowing who to love first, mom, dad or her girl. She bounded from one to the other licking and wiggling, tail wagging furiously with joy. The family was overjoyed as well. Loving on her and talking sweet talk to her.
Mom said they had been coming to the shelter several times a week and on weekends looking for her. Sammy had gotten out during the last windstorm that had done a lot of damage to the area with downed trees and fences. Their fence was a victim of the storm.
Sammy's chocolate lab buddy as home was a depressed mess without her. He would be so happy to see her again too.
And with that we said good-bye. They took their beloved dog home. She will get a vet check-up and new collar and tags the next day. She had lost quite a bit of weight, but she was pretty fat before going missing, according to the owners.
I called the daughter and let her know about how happy Sammy and her family were to be re-united. She was very happy.
Gotta love those happy endings.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Ok so it's been awhile and I promised to share something creepy that recently happened. This was just a little before Halloween, how appropriate.
I got a call for a Welfare Check on Animals. The complaint was that the calling party was concerned that there was a very bad smell coming from the dog owner's house. And that the owners had a lot of dogs. The Calling party was concerned that the dogs were not being cared for and dying. There was also a note about the CP being asked by the dog owner to help put dead animals in bags and in garbage. Nice huh? Oh it gets better.
This hadn't been my call originally. The call came in the previous day. The officer assigned couldn't find the address as it was dark and the streets in this particular area are very confusing. Not to mention that he was given the street name and house number! After he spent time trying to unsuccessfully find it, he pended the call for the next day. That was how I ended up with it.
Now, I was less than thrilled that day. I was assigned to work the southern part of the county. Not an area I am entirely familiar with or comfortable in. But I adapt. I was also on my last day of the week and my two week vacation, the first I have had in several years, started that next day. And after running around the entire southern parts of the county, this was my last call for the day.
So I arrived at the address and parked in front of the poorly kept front yard. As soon as I got out of my truck I could smell it. It was the unmistakable smell of death.
As an ACO this is a smell that you can recognize if you pick up a lot of DOAs (dead on arrivals) and road kill. It's never a pleasant smell, but not one that really bothers me too much.
Anyway, I wasn't even on the property yet and could smell it strongly. It was old death. Something that had been dead for awhile.
I took a quick look around to try to get an idea of location of the source of the smell. There were a couple of piles of clothing in the driveway. As I approached the driveway it smelled very strong. But I couldn't quite locate it. There weren't any trash cans. Which according to the report, the animal remains may have been put in the trash. No cans. Just piles in the driveway of clothing. I side stepped the clothes and approached the front door. It didn't appear that anyone was home since there were no cars in the driveway or on the street parked. I figured that I would end up posting a notice and clear out.
As I approached the door I saw a Missing Persons flyer attached to the front door. A young couple's picture centered on the flyer. Apparently both were missing. I knocked several times and got no answer. I didn't hear any dogs barking either. So I wrote my notice and stuck it in the crack of the door as I usually did. There just wasn't much more I could do at this point.
I walked across the lawn this time towards my truck, the smell was ever-present while I was on the property. I was about half way to my truck when the neighbor one house away caught my attention. He hollered to me that the people that live there aren't there. I acknowledged that I figured that out. We approached each other. Maybe he might know when the owners would be home as he obviously knew they weren't home.
The neighbor then told me that all the people that lived there were in jail. He then asked me, didn't I watch the news? They had found the missing couples bodies in the garbage cans at this house. Well at least the Male's body was stuffed in the garbage can right here on the side of the house. Apparently the female's body was in a garbage can and wheeled around the corner to a field and dumped out. This was according to the neighbor.
No, I hadn't been watching the news recently due to working late hours and not getting home in time for the news. But ya, wow. The neighbor told me more and showed me where the garbage cans had been next to the garage. It was then I noticed the police tape across the gate next to the garage. I also heard a small dog barking in the backyard. The neighbor told me that they had several of the small chihuahuas, maybe 6 or 7. they used to have more, but he thinks that maybe some were killed or died. He wasn't sure. He showed me the big smelly stains on the ground where the decomposing bodies were.
He then said that the cops had been there from about 4pm yesterday until about 7am this morning and they were going to be coming back. But it was nearly 4pm and they had not returned. The neighbor stated the there was not one in the house. He didn't think anyone was going to be back to the house.
So this now became a issue. I knew there was at least one dog on the property, and possibly 7. It was also possible that the owners would not be returning home. This was also a major crime scene. And of coarse I had no luck getting in touch with any of the cops that had been on scene or were working the case to find out if I could enter the property to get the dogs or at least find out if family members were going to be back to care for the dogs.
I finally decided that since I couldn't get any authorization that I could or should enter the property, I would post a Pre-seizure notice. At least this would give the cops an idea that Animal Control was contacted and that we needed contact or something. We could always come back at the cops request. I was surprised that we hadn't been called by them when they were on scene. As this is what they usually do.
There was just too much ookieness to this whole scene.
Apparently this was a huge local news story that was on all the channels.
Ya, creepy.
Oh, and did I mention this happened on my birthday?
Happy birthday to me huh?