County refuses to return dog to original owner
August 12, 2010
San Luis Obispo county officials continue to ignore a growing public outcry to return a stray dog to her original owner. [Tribune]
Annie, an 8-year-old Australian shepherd, has belonged to Chuck Hogue, an Arroyo Grande widower, for the last seven years. The dog ran away in late June in a panic after hearing a gunshot. Hogue, who works for Central Coast Pathology, spent the next three weeks searching for his dog, checking regularly with the county animal services Lost and Found Line.
Hogue claims he received a phone call telling him that his dog was at the animal services shelter and to come out and get the dog. However, when he arrived, the dog had already been adopted out to another family days prior. Dr. Eric Anderson, director of animal services, informed the new family of Hogue’s relationship to the dog, but the family refused to surrender the dog. Anderson declined to take further action.
On Wednesday, Jeff Hamm, director of the county health agency, which oversees animal services, reaffirmed Anderson’s handling of the case and said that Annie would likely stay with her new owners. Hamm also said that the staff at animal services handled the case appropriately.
However, an email obtained by CalCoastNews from a volunteer worker at animal services suggests mistakes were made.
“I definitely do not think it was Chuck Hogue’s fault,” wrote the volunteer, who asked to remain anonymous. “I know the system failed him. Annie was there in Kennel D1 for 7 days. Her name was known, as was her breed. Hogue probably called many, many times but he was never told that she was there. And at the time of her adoption, a fail safe check could have been made against any ‘lost animal’ report in the computer system.
“The system of locating animals in the shelter is improperly maintained. The people in the front office rely on what is in the computer. It is not up-to-date and I think that the kennel workers and their immediate supervisor could do a much better job.”
Hamm acknowledged that the case was becoming a “feeding frenzy” as dog lovers across the county rallied to Hogue’s defense.
A Facebook page called “Give Chuck Hogue his Dog Back!” has been created to bring supporters together. Co-workers and friends are also meeting to pursue legal action and a public protest on behalf of Hogue. They’re urging people to write the various county supervisors on Hogue’s behalf.
Hogue lost his wife recently. He doesn’t want to lose Annie.
“I just want my dog back,” he said, choking back tears.