Annie’s new owners unleash their anger on Facebook
August 28, 2010
The woman who adopted Annie the dog from county Animal Services last July finally broke her silence Friday night in a scathing public letter posted on Facebook.
Using the pen name “Sasha Sampson,” the Arroyo Grande woman responded to the ongoing media barrage and the 3500-plus members of the “Give Chuck Hoage Back His Dog” page on Facebook.
“Since anonymous hang up calls, a green jeep, a white truck parked across the street from my house according to my daughter who has been uneasy about the unfamiliar vehicles sitting outside our house, since the release of our names on Tuesday by the County. What sane person would “reveal” themselves to the lynch mob mentality?” Sampson said in her letter.
“The most recent Facebook comment stating “they would not have a house to return to and I hope they’d have good insurance…”, forced me to return home early from vacation to a frighten daughter. Why would we come forward when the public outcry painted us as the “bad guys” and the reporting by the Tribune clearly biased toward Hoage. To add more drama, a misinformed radio host inflaming the public and a County Supervisor, claiming to negotiate a return, when he has never spoken to us or we agreeing to meet with him.”
Sampson goes on to defend herself against criticism by The Tribune by pointing out the mistakes Chuck Hoage, the dog’s original owner, made by not having tags on Annie, nor even bothering to search for her at the county shelter.
“If he (Hoage) loved Annie so much why didn’t he make a trip to the shelter? Hoage also never filed a lost dog report (Tribune 8/11) according to Jeff Hamm. Why not? Since the story broke, pictures have been posted all over the newspapers and internet but not once did Hoage think to post a picture at the Animal Shelter. If the same energy that was put into reunification was put into locating Annie things might have been different.”
Sampson stressed that she and her family were very familiar with the Australian shepherd breed and had been taking proper care of the dog. She also stated that the family had been away on vacation and had no idea of the media firestorm until a visit from Dr. Eric Anderson, general manager of Animal Services.
The accidental release of her name, address, and phone number by county counsel last Tuesday especially angered Sampson. The suggestion of a possible lawsuit is quite clear: “The biggest mistake, which may cost the County, is the release of our personal information by Assistant County Counsel Rita Neal who signed the cover letter with our personal information and released it to Kitty Crockett. This action has put us in harms way, created tremendous emotional stress and could result in legal trouble for County Counsel Warren Jensen. What a big faux pau, I struggle sleeping at night worrying about possible vandalism retaliation.”
Sampson vented at protesters from last Tuesday’s rally in San Luis Obispo by challenging them to put their energy into issues such as education and homelessness.
KVEC radio talk show host Dave Congalton also came under attack for leaving a voice message on the Arroyo Grande home phone. Sampson said she has given a copy of the voice mail to the Arroyo Grande police, the Tribune, and county counsel.
“What about Hoage’s personal advocate Dave Congalton? On 8/26 in the Tribune he said “he is very concerned about the new owners’ names being released and he was trying to tone things down”. However this didn’t stop him on Tuesday, August 24 @ 2:19 calling my home while I was away frightening my daughter who had to stay the night with a neighbor after listening to his voice mail stating, “I’m calling mainly to let you know if I know a lot of other people are about to know and I’m hoping that some way we can resolve this… we need to talk sooner than later””
Congalton admitted making the phone call. “I gave out her personal information to no one,” Congalton said. “But I was extremely concerned when the family’s personal data accidentally became public. I reached out to them, urging them to meet with Adam Hill sooner rather than later. Under the circumstances, I didn’t think we could wait another week.”
After also attacking county supervisor Hill for sitting outside her house, hoping to find someone home, Sampson said she hoped “that no one ever has to endure an adoptive experience like this.” She also announced that Annie is “safe, happy, outdoors, and running daily.” Sampson asked for privacy so that she and Hoage could discuss Annie’s future privately.
In response to Sampson’s letter, Verena Maier, coordinator of Saturday’s planned rally in Arroyo Grande on behalf of Hoage and Annie, announced late Friday night that the rally would be cancelled.