What would you do if your dog went missing or was stolen, then surrendered to the animal shelter and adopted out? Then, as the original owner of the dog, you find the dog and all you want is for him to come home? This is the story of Bobo the Australian Shepherd.
The original owner of Bobo is Colleen Davidson. She and her family live on the river on the Oklahoma side and operate a horse and cattle ranch. Bobo is a working dog, so he goes to work every day herding cattle. Sadly, one day in November, Bobo went missing. To say the family was upset is an understatement. They drove all the roads near and searched around the ranch for several days, but no Bobo.
Fast forward one month as Davidson and her daughter were searching on Facebook for their beloved dog, they found themselves on the Paris TX Shelter Adoptables page. And there he was. It was Bobo. They immediately private messaged the shelter stating the Aussie that had just been adopted was their dog. This was on December 23.
“I believed with all my heart … I was 98 percent sure it was Bobo,” said Davidson.
According to Davidson, what happened next stunned her. She received a message back from the Lamar County Humane Association who runs the adoption page. The representative for the association told her it was not her dog. It was brought in as an owner surrender and there was nothing they could do until after the holidays. “I am the owner,” she said.
Keith Flowers, President for the LCHA verified what happened to the dog and that, in fact, the dog had been brought in by a woman and was adopted at an adoption event on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, in front of Petco.
“It has always been the policy of the City of Paris Shelter and LCHA that dogs and cats that are owner-surrendered to the shelter are available for immediate adoption for several reasons. First, there is no reason to post the animal looking for the owner when the person surrendering the dog or cat has signed a City of Paris form stating they are the owner of the animal and wishing to surrender it. Secondly, unlike strays and animals that are picked up by an animal control officer, there is no 72-hour stray hold for owner-surrendered animals.”
Thus Bobo went to the front of the line for adoption as the shelter operates at Code Red most of the time and moving dogs into permanent homes is the goal rather than the alternative.
Flowers went on to say he received a call from Davidson on Christmas Day and that he would look into the situation. Meanwhile, the original Bobo was bonding with his new family. At one point his photo was posted to the adoption page under the Christmas tree of his new family.
“We were heartbroken,” said Davidson.
Days later, there was no new information from Flowers or the LCHA, so Davidson took to social media to try and get her dog back. He had been with his new family nine days now. She posted a photo she had of Bobo reaching out to the new family and telling them they had her dog and she was trying desperately to get him back. The family, who wishes to remain anonymous, could see all the similarities of their photo and Davidson’s.
The LCHA does not do intakes into the shelter and the procedures for owner surrenders and strays are those of the Paris Police Department, which operates and has supervision of the Paris Animal Shelter.
“The LCHA is responsible for either adopting out, finding fosters or finding no-kill rescues to take those shelter animals once the stray-hold policies of the shelter are fulfilled. It is our goal to do the absolute best job that we can to make sure that these homeless dogs and cats go out the front door to forever homes instead of out the back door as a sad statistic of euthanasia due to the pet overpopulation problem, which is due to irresponsible pet owners who do not spay or neuter their pets,” said Flowers.
Flowers did reach out to the new owners and he said they did not return his phone calls, nor did Davidson. This led to Bobo’s new and previous owners working things out on their own. The new family felt they had to return him – it was not right to keep him. Davidson met the family and as soon as Bobo saw her he jumped into the back of the truck.
“They were very nice people and when they realized the dog was mine they gave him to me. It was not their fault,” she said.
So all’s well that ends well for Bobo. He is back on the ranch reporting for work each day.
“He’s happy to be home and all is normal again, but it was a terrible experience. I don’t want anyone else to have to go through this with their family pet,” she said.
If you find your pet missing the first place you will want to check is your local animal shelter and adoption agencies. Taking to social media to search is also a good idea.
“The absolute best solution is a registered microchip with the current owner and contact information. That places the solution on the pet parent to make sure that there is a verifiable method to establish ownership for shelters or if it should advance to civil litigation between two or more folks who came to own the same pet,” said Flowers.
Bobo was micro-chipped upon entering the shelter however the chip was not registered so there was no way to trace him back to Davidson. He was given a chip when adopted by the new family by the LCHA.
Paris Police Chief Bob Hundley paid the woman who surrendered Bobo to the shelter a visit. He stated the woman was by the river and found the dog under a bridge. The dog was dirty and had been out for a while. Flowers said she cleaned up the dog and fed it a few weeks, but couldn’t keep the dog, so she brought the dog into the shelter to surrender it.
The LCHA has consulted with the Chief of Police, lawyers, and others in the legal community for guidance in possibly improving the current system and they are exploring those options at this time so hopefully, no more Bobo stories arise.