“Reveal yourself.” Yeah, right! 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 by the county ... what sane people would “reveal” themselves to the lynch mob mentality?
The most recent Facebook comment stating, “they would not have a house to return to! Hope they’d have good insurance,” forced me to return home early from vacation to a frightened daughter. Why would we come forward when the public outcry has painted us as the “bad guys” and the reporting by The Tribune is clearly biased toward Chuck Hoage?
To add more drama, we have a misinformed radio host inflaming the public and a County Supervisor (Adam Hill) claiming to negotiate a return, when he has never spoken to us nor have we agreed to meet with him.
Constantly, we read in The Tribune, “if the new owners would only do the right thing.” If Hoage would have “done the right thing” from the beginning, we wouldn’t have the saga of Annie, starring Hoage as the victimized leading man. Why wasn’t Annie tagged? Many of his supporters want to ignore any wrong doing on his part and reward his irresponsibility.
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Hoage said he called the shelter’s call in “found dog” line, however, Annie was listed three times and never once did he physically go down to the shelter. This fact continues to nag us. If he loved Annie so much, why didn’t he make a trip to the shelter? Hoage also never filed a lost dog report according to Jeff Hamm, director of the county health agency. 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.
All we wanted was to adopt a loving pet, specifically an older Aussie because our family members have had a long history with this breed. We adopted, licensed, microchipped and took Annie to a local veterinarian. We feel we did all the right things and Hoage broke all the laws of responsibility to Annie.
The shelter affirmed to us that all legal requirements were met and we trusted that things were in order. We don’t get the newspaper and had no idea for weeks of the firestorm of public sentiment regarding the adoption until we were visited by Eric Anderson, director of animal services.
What if The Tribune would have “done the right thing” and let the story run its course and resist fanning the flames, taking sides and keeping the story in the public eye when far more pressing newsworthy issues could have been covered?
The misuse of the media and use of intimidation tactics by printing some of the hateful comments lead to my negative opinion of all the parties involved. Was there any reporter at The Tribune who didn’t write a story about Annie?
What if county officials would have “done the right thing” and stuck to the comment made by Hamm who said his animal services division employees “handled the case appropriately”? What if the politicians had not been allowed to get involved by caving into public pressure and not standing up for their staff by constantly reminding the media that the shelter wasn’t at fault and Hoage didn’t follow the rules?
The biggest mistake that 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 harm’s way, created tremendous emotional stress and could result in legal trouble for County Counsel Warren Jensen. What a big faux pas, I struggle sleeping at night worrying about possible vandalism retaliation.
What about Hoage’s constituents and Annie’s fan club members? All of the comments about us being cold hearted, dishonest, lacking human compassion ... get a life! We wanted to provide a loving home for an adoptive dog and did everything properly. Instead of criticizing the shelter and professing to care about animals, try putting some of that energy into volunteering to improve the shelter and rallying for more people to adopt pets. There are so many other issues facing San Luis Obispo County that could use advocates.
I challenge Annie’s fan club and ralliers who marched outside the courthouse to put the same passion into issues such as education for our children, homelessness, creating food banks, affordable housing or county water issues. I’ve yet to see this public show of support for the “real issues facing the county.” What will all of you do with the extra time once the Annie situation is resolved?
What about Hoage’s personal advocate, Dave Congalton? In an article in The Tribune on Aug. 26 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 Aug. 24 from calling my home while I was away and 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 that if I know, a lot of other people are about to know, and I’m hoping there’s some way we can resolve this ... we need to talk sooner rather than later.” I have submitted a copy of the voice mail recording to the Arroyo Grande Police Department, The Tribune and the County Counsel.
How about the supervisor (Hill) who claims to be sympathetic to our situation, but has stalked our house, left phone messages and got my personal e-mail, all of which I consider an invasion of my privacy. Who in the county doesn’t have my personal information?
There was a family from Fresno who also wanted to adopt Annie, but we got there first. Would Hill and other county officials have driven to Fresno to reunite Hoage and Annie? Would they make weekly trips to Fresno to sit in front of their homes, hoping to catch them coming out of the door? Were the extra meetings on this issue time well spent for the county? Do the officials in San Luis Obispo County have nothing more pressing to do? Has this single issue been the best use of the taxpayers time? The fact is we don’t trust the county officials to maintain our confidentiality because they haven’t from the beginning.
What if we, the adoptive owners, “did the right thing?” The right thing for me in my heart would be to keep Annie. The right thing would not be folding and returning Annie, however, personal threats tend to work miracles. We still have concerns that Annie hasn’t been properly taken care of and hope in the future she will be safe. Please get her impacted tooth fixed. The veterinarian believes it could be causing her some pain.
I want to thank the Arroyo Grande Police Department for their precious time and resources in patrolling our neighborhood and protecting our family, home and respecting our privacy while we were away. I hope no one ever has to endure an adoptive experience like this one.
Thank you to our few supporters who didn’t buy the propaganda that the shelter did something wrong and we are terrible people. Annie is safe, happy and outdoors running daily. As we move forward, please let Hoage and I resolve this matter. We want nothing from him or the many incentive offers I’ve just recently discovered. No more radio personalities, politicians, advocates or front page stories in The Tribune. Let’s begin to talk about the real issues.
“Reveal yourself.” Yeah, right.