Chuck and Annie reunited

August 30, 2010

Verena Maier, Chuck Hoage and Annie on Monday

Annie the dog, whose plight ignited a community-wide debate, was returned to her original owner Chuck Hoage of Nipomo on Monday.

A statement released Monday afternoon by Dr. Eric Anderson, head of county Animal Services, made the official announcement.

According to Anderson, the Arroyo Grande family who adopted the Australian shepherd last July returned the dog to the Kansas Avenue facility at 3:20 Monday afternoon.

Hoage was given the dog back shortly before 5 p.m. after agreeing to pay an undisclosed fine for reclaiming a lost dog through Animal Services.

The reunion comes after nearly a month of media attention focused on the debate as to who actually owned the dog, who ran away from Hoage’s property in late June. A Facebook page recently renamed “Friends of Annie” currently has 4,200 members supporting Hoage.

“Animal Services recognizes that Annie’s saga represents an emotional and stressful period for all those involved,” said Anderson.

KVEC radio talk show host Dave Congalton plans to have Hoage and Annie as his special guests Tuesday at 6:05 p.m.

“This is a great day,” said Congalton, who helped organize the support for Hoage. “We’re just happy to see Chuck and Annie back together again, back where they belong.”

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Well, it isn’t unusual for people who have done something bad to run around and congratulate each other and reframe the bad deed in a new light.

As for Bob Cuddy who started the whole media frenzie and Dave Congalton who kept the fire going… well, at least one of you learned yor lesson. Animal rights activists are dangerous to themselves and others.

BTW, Cindy, I am sure that if you put this issue to a vote, you wouldn’t get the 90% favorable you think is behind this issue. The truth would be more disturbing to you and your only hope is if the court would overturn the injustice. The pressure placed on the family was more than social pressure ( actually the appropriate psychological term is “social aggression”)… this was only one step away from what one of the animal lovers recently tried unsuccessfully in the Discovery Channel Building. By the way, Cindy, Dave and the rest… use your full name… otherwise you just all seem so cowardly. It’s easy to throw insults at people when no one knows who you are.

KatieEvans… please tell me you are not another of the many single fat ladies with cats? And where is the famous ‘Kitty”?

As for Chuck, he is just sad. There are many men who once realizing that there dog had found a happy home with children would have let it be. Blame the gods but not the family.

Once again we get to see the dark underbelly of our country…

It seems to me that you have a lot to learn about people and how to act like an adult. Your predilection for sophomoric comments is telling.

Excellent post wrote by OceanofStars: This is how things should have been and I am compelled to share her story of which I witnessed a similar expierence of my own.

“I haven’t waded into this till now as I was just too disgusted but as it not seems to be having a just and fair outcome.

The whole time this has been developing I couldn’t help but think of my mother and her cat. Many years ago, my mother’s beloved, and pampered, Siamese house cat “Skeemin’ Cat” disappeared without a trace. We canvassed the neighborhood, put up fliers, and my mother ran an ad in the local newspaper for many weeks.

Finally, and after watching the ad in the paper for a month, some people called my mom with the belief that they had her cat. It seems she had been found her miles from our home, badly injured, and they had assumed she’d been hit by a car. (It was our belief that she actually hitched a ride under the hood of a car to have gotten so far…and received her injuries finally falling off). They had taken her to a vet and paid a considerable amount toward repairing her injuries which included a broken pelvis.

They had become quite fond of the cat but my mom’s obvious love for the animal, as shown by her diligence in running an ad for over a month, had gotten to them and they finally called. When my mom went to their house, with photos and evidence that this was indeed her cat, they readily gave her back and were even reluctant to let her reimburse them for the vet bills. (Though they finally relented.) This cat was my mother’s companion for 21 years…with a slight hump in her back as a reminder of her foray from home for 16 of those. My mom stayed in touch with that cat’s rescuers sending them holiday cards with pictures of her for the duration of her (the cat’s) life.

This is how it should be. This is how civilized people behave. I can’t imagine anyone, in good conscience, keeping an animal that they know to be someone else’s beloved pet any more than I can imagine someone giving a stolen animal as gift to their children.

Civilized people don’t gang up on someone and force them to do something they don’t want to do. That is far more troubling than Chuck not getting his dog back. Also, the family in this story did not legally adopt that cat.

Peer Pressure and shunning have existed since the beginning of time. Many laws have been adopted because there are always some people that just don’t know “how to” or “care to” do the right thing. Our own County officials had two meetings to determine if they could find something in the law to force this family to do the right thing. How about that !! Peer pressure has always been a good thing and has served our civilized society well. This family did have a choice, no one twisted anyone’s arm. Their peer’s simply applied good ole fashion “peer pressure”. I suppose you think Amnesty International are a bunch of “bullies” too and force self serving governments to do what they don’t want to?

Your last line, “the family in this story did not legally adopt that cat.” says just about everything anyone needs to know about your heart and mind set. What a sad world when we all only do what we are required by law to do.

Your comment amuses me. Let’s break it down:

“Peer Pressure and shunning have existed since the beginning of time.”

Pretty sure you’re going to have a hard time finding a reference showing the creation of time and the human race as coincident.

“Many laws have been adopted because there are always some people that just don’t know ‘how to’ or ‘care to’ do the right thing.”

Do you have any good examples? That certainly didn’t happen in this case. Why did you mention that?

“Our own County officials had two meetings to determine if they could find something in the law to force this family to do the right thing. How about that !!”

Yet they could not find a way. And in the absence of any legal recourse, a large group of people decided to take matters into their own hands.

“Peer pressure has always been a good thing and has served our civilized society well.”

Ha ha ha. Really? Really? Come on. Really?

“This family did have a choice, no one twisted anyone’s arm. Their peer’s simply applied good ole fashion ‘peer pressure’.”

What is “ole fashion?” I get the sense that you took pleasure in the threats made against this family. This matter would only kept on escalating until the dog was returned so they really had no choice. Only a fool would place their family in harms way over a dog.

“I suppose you think Amnesty International are a bunch of ‘bullies’ too and force self serving governments to do what they don’t want to?”

Is that a statement or a question? Are you telling me that you don’t understand the difference between a law abiding American citizen and “self serving govemments?” And I would not classify them as bullies since bullies prey on weaker individuals.

“Your last line, ‘the family in this story did not legally adopt that cat.’ says just about everything anyone needs to know about your heart and mind set.”

No it does not. I’m of the mindset that we live in a country that is proud of the freedoms enjoyed by its citizens. We are free to make any decision we chose with the confines of the law. Even if those decisions are not popular. I don’t like seeing a law abiding citizen having their freedom trampled on because they made an unpopular decision.

“What a sad world when we all only do what we are required by law to do.”

Like you said, if you didn’t think she “cared to” or knew “how to” do the right thing, then get the law changed. I would happy to support that cause.

The SLO Tribune’s Bob Cuddy writes * “all of us… should re-examine our behavior… need to be honest with ourselves…” and then proceeds to violate the very “cardinal rule of journalism” (“Never assume anything”) he admits breaking. He uses a letter of unknown origin (“purports to be from… don’t have that verified yet”) to spew his new presumption that “Terrorism works”, based on an unfounded assumption (“If the letter is true”) to say “something horrifying” has been revealed. He then concludes his screed by giving “the last word to Annie’s new owners”, as if the source of his excerpts has been verified.

What has been revealed is Cuddy’s blatant hypocrisy and utter lack of journalistic integrity. Preaching his “take a good look inside yourselves” sermon, he uses a letter he rumors is from a valid source to demean the “fan club and ralliers” and “public”; and, while in the act of violating the ethics of his own profession, to accuse folks, falsely, of not directing their “passion” and “time” toward other pressing issues. Putting the letter-writer’s ignorance on full public display (“I’ve yet to see this public show of support…”), Cuddy rips off his own mask, exposing a rumor monger devoid of any credibility.

David Broadwater


So I have a couple three questions that I would love to have some honest input to:

In the future, if I choose to legally adopt a dog from DAS, after what duration of time of owning it can I be assured that it’s truly mine even if the original owner belatedly comes forward? Obviously 3 days doesn’t seem long enough to many folks so would it be 3 weeks, 3 months, 3 years, more, never? Does the original owner always trump the new owner regardless of extenuating circumstances or would these situations be taken on a case-by-case basis? And if so, who would make the ultimate decision and enforce it: DAS, the local media, internet online posting boards, etc.?

thanks in advance for your time,


That’s an interesting question? This was a rare circumstance because AS actually called Chuck and told him that they had found Annie and to come and get her. I can’t imagine that this sort of thing might happen again and I think the best case scenario is that the staff see’s to it that it doesn’t.

The shelter needs to analyze it’s procedures and intake methods, data base queries, cross referencing abilities and over all checks and balances. I have no doubt they are already working on it. As for me, I can’t say how long but I know that personally I might even return a dog after a year, depending on it’s reaction to it’s lost and found previous owner (and the circumstances). I don’t think that is reasonable for the general public or for a little kid and again, your question is interesting. What if it happens again? How long?

I am going to share the following, which is inspired by Bob Cuddy asking everyone to take a look inside ourselves, and then I am going to bow out of these conversations. I know that I have a very strong opinion surrounding the actions and “inaction” of those who participated in this recent “event”, I have noticed that you have strong sentiments also.

I have to say that as an animal lover who has donated a great deal of my time (in previous years) to fostering abandoned animals, assisting with outside adoptions, fund raising and also caring for and loving my own critters, it is beyond me to fathom how any animal lover would fail to return a dog to it’s long term owner. I truly mean it when I say that I can not fathom the mentality of being approached by a professional director of the animal shelter and after being enlightened of all the circumstances by which I came to own the dog I adopted, that it would even be possible for me to ever consider anything other than to reunite the pet with her beloved owner. It wouldn’t matter if I were attached to the pet, I love animals and I would know that the adopted pet that I “legally” owned was missing it’s beloved/ rightful owner and it’s old way of life. The only thing I would request is that the owner stop by and quietly sit down in an area where the dog would detect the previous owners presence. All I would want to see is that the dog loved it’s owner. I would never , not even for one single second feel cheated if I saw that the dog loved and wanted it’s owner and wanted to go home with him. Just ask the owner to walk towards your door (after the dog has made contact) and watch what the dog does. If the dog has been found by the person it loves the most, it will follow him and want to go home with him. It will even show panic at being left behind. I would feel very very happy that the pet I loved found her lost owner and was willing to say goodbye to me because it wanted to go home. With that said, I can not emphasize with anyone who attempts to play a victim and who seeks sympathy for their self centered actions. I can not say thank you to someone who caused so much grief in the wake of self righteous grandstanding. I have said my peace. I also challenge the statements that anyone ever threatened that family with anything but embarrassment.

Regardless, lets not let it happen again. Back to the question at hand, how long?

justapostingcat…I don’t suppose that any amount of passed time makes your pet adoption more or less valid.

The entire mess up with this situation is only due to one major failure…..the continued lack of leadership with our county government. The original adoption of Annie to the wrong family was a mistake on the part of the DSA. A mistake, no matter how tragic, can happen any time. We’re all human beings and none of us are infallible.

The real failure, and it happens repeatedly, is the failure of our board of supervisors (read Adam Hill in this case) to simply say “We screwed up.” immediately when the mistake was discovered. Nope! Not how our Board of Eunuchs deals with mistakes. What kind of advice doea the Board get from County Counsel…..verbal flatulence!! Nice job Rita!!

What does Adam Hill say,….”We’ll buy you a replacement dog” Where do we get these types of leaders. Adam, you’re the brightest supervisor on the board. Grow a pair for Crying out Loud.

Just the kind of enabling statement that reinforces the behavior of the Annie keepers.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely in favor of the favorable out come with the return of Annie to Chuck. All I’m saying is that none of this petulant dog lover drama crap fostered by Karen Velie, Dave Congalton and his followers needed to happen. It was simply the logical result of a feckless Board of Supervisors and SLO County Counsel’s office to act early on in a responsible manner. The Perfect Storm of useless drama that is designed to make KVEC rating numbers rise slightly above room temperature.

(1) 90-days (Civil code 2080 et seq.)

(2) Yes. Always.

(3) California Supreme Court. You did say “ultimate”.

A few comments have been removed, (post again when you are feeling better)

please focus more of your comment and opinion on the story, the facts at hand,

focus less on other folks posting here,

your emails are appreciated,

any mention of moderation in thread is usually deleted.

some of y’all need to develop a more civil tone.

Thank you for getting a grip on reality. This is about a lost dog who found it’s way back home. The rest of the vitriol is wasted time and space…

You sure appear intimidated Mad Hatter. Is there something, cruel, unethical, selfish and unkind that you have done or are considering doing? A few weeks ago a local attorney friend told me about a new client who paid him a $200 consultation fee to discuss the legalities behind this potential clients plans to take advantage of a particular situation that had come to his attention. My attorney friend replied, “is that ethical, do you believe this sounds either ethical or moral’? The potential client replied, “hey, I didn’t pay you to ask you if it was ethical, I asked you if it was legal”! Yeah anyone like that should probably be intimidated by groups who speak out when they believe a wrong has been committed! Right from wrong is an easy call for most of us, we don’t get embarrassed or intimidated when a whole lot of people find out that we have done the right thing and/or been unselfish, scrupulous and kind. Having those types of facts “get out” are usually something to be proud of. It’s only the weasels that freak.

Sorry you’re so freaked about the success of the “Friends of Annie”.

If “Sasha” had done the right thing at the outset, her family would not have been the subject of any harassment. If I went to the shelter to adopt a homeless dog, and ended up with a dog who actually had a loving family, I would have returned the dog to his family and gone to the shelter and adopted an actual homeless dog. That way–two dogs win. This woman had to be vindictive and spiteful instead and would have kept Annie if not for the public pressure. Too bad everyone just doesn’t do the right thing on their own.

Has anyone read the BS written in the Bob Cuddy/TRUBUNE opinion piece. in my opinion he has negatively slanted the issue in a way that broadly paints the people who were willing to give their voice to a case of percieved injustice. These people are not crazies Bob…. and this is yet another reason why the Trib has gone down the tubes and will never receive another subscription from my family

I am very happy that Annie & Chuck have been reunited! However, the statement by “Sasha” that I read in todays Trib leads me to believe the reunion would NOT have happened without the ‘alleged’ pressure. In Sasha’s statement, she said she would have chosen NOT to have “folded” & given the dog back! That statement is stunning! It leads me to believe that “without the public pressure”, Sasha would not have done the moral & ethically correct thing by returning Annie to Chuck. Sometimes “pressure” is the ONLY way to get an ethically correct outcome, some folks just lack the ability to “DO THE RIGHT THING” of their own accord….

Tribune? Is that paper still in publication? I haven’t seen one in years!

I read Cuddy’s editorial, and I agree with most of it, which is uncommon for me.

The high-fiving being done because some forced their will on others is callous and uncalled for.

I recognize people have special relationships with their pets, and this story tugged at some people’s heart strings.

The mob mentality this situation brought out is frightening at the least. Further, I would wager that more thought was given by many to this human interest story than was given to the Pakistan flooding, or many other real issues of the day.

Racket, No one forced their will on these weasels. If they believed that they were doing the right thing then there was no reason to hide or be embarrassed. No one threatened to harm them. People threatened to picket them and expose them. Most people would appreciate a little exposure when they believe that they have done a good thing and don’t mind talking about themselves a little bit or their reasoning behind their decisions. That wasn’t the case with these people, They turned tail and ducked under a couch screaming we are being terrorized, we are in danger, we are victims and afraid that people will learn who we are. No one forced them to do anything, it was their own guilt, lies and fear of public opinion over their own actions for which they had no reasonable justification.

Yes TacomaRose, I read it and here is how I replied:

“The only terror this family experienced was the terror that 90% of the local community was going to find out that they were careless, self centered, morally inept and heartless towards their fellow mankind. They were embarrassed and feared that they would be revealed as the family that played “finders keepers, losers weepers, even when the loser literally weeps. They transparently lied in their letter claiming they didn’t know what was going on rather than attempt to explain their actions. There was no “reasonable, ethical or moral” excuse for the posture they took.

Terrorized??? Boo, are yah scared?”

I also read Joetopia who was more realistic about the event: I left him a reply also:

“I truly believe that the only fear this family felt was the fear of embarrassment. They had hoped the Annie supporters would go away but the supporters rather rallied in front of the SLO County Building and then set their sites on Arroyo Grande. This family grudgingly returned Annie rather than take the chance that 90% of an entire community would consider them careless, self centered, morally inept, and heartless. They had every opportunity to return Annie early on, they learned that they didn’t “have to” regardless of pleas from the Director of the Animal Shelter or knowledge of the circumstances. They played finders keepers, literally losers weepers (knowing that Chuck was literally weeping) and they almost lost their dignity in the process. I’d say all’s well that ends well. They have kept their anonymity and returned the only evidence (that would surely reveal them) back to her rightful owner.”