After a surprise reunion with his Australian shepherd Monday evening, Chuck Hoage took Tuesday off from work to spend time with Annie, the 8-year-old dog who has become a household name in San Luis Obispo County.
In the coming days, Hoage said, he plans to spend as much time as possible with Annie.
“No matter what I’m doing, she’s going to be with me,” he said Tuesday morning, standing next to his blue pickup at the ranch outside Arroyo Grande where Annie originally disappeared June 22 after she was startled by a gunshot.
County Animal Services Manager Eric Anderson did not tell Hoage on Monday evening that he had Annie with him; Hoage said Anderson called and told him to meet at a local park to discuss the dog.
“He had Annie with him in the car, and she just went berserk,” Hoage said, when she saw him.
Since he saw her last, Annie has been spayed and given a microchip that allows pets to be identified if lost and taken to an animal shelter or veterinarian. On Tuesday morning, Hoage had her license transferred to his name.
Annie also has two new pink tags: one with Hoage’s address and phone number, and another that reads “Princess.”
The latter was a gift from close friend Kris Willoughby of Nipomo, who said she helped Hoage search for Annie.
Both Willoughby and Hoage said the county’s Animal Services should re-examine its adoption policy. Currently, unlicensed stray dogs and cats must be held for only five business days before they can be adopted or euthanized, according to Animal Services website.
That timeline is longer than the 72 hours required by state law, regardless of whether a shelter is open for business or not, Anderson said. He didn’t know whether the five-day limit would be extended, but said the Annie case has already prompted Animal Services staff to discuss whether any changes to their policies are needed.
Anderson added he’s concerned that Annie’s story might make other people reconsider whether to adopt a pet from the shelter.
The shelter can hold a maximum of 70 dogs and about 60 to 70 adult cats, he said.
Hoage had to pay a fine of $255.50 to receive Annie, including costs to have her licensed, a boarding fee, and a state-mandated fine for owners of animals that are not fixed or are picked up running at large, Anderson said.
Annie’s adoptive owner did not request a new pet, he said. The adoptive owner will receive a refund on their adoption and licensing fee, which is about $125, he said, as well as for the costs of a flea treatment.
Hoage said Tuesday he harbors no hard feelings toward Annie’s adoptive owner.
“She took care of my dog,” he said.
County Supervisor Adam Hill, who has two Australian shepherds, said late Monday that he was sorry for any “unpleasantness” that the adoptive family had experienced during the past month, since news of Annie’s adoption broke and caused a public outcry countywide.
“They didn’t do anything wrong and in the end, they did the kind thing by returning Annie to Chuck,” he said. “I’m sure they’re unhappy, and I’m sorry about that, but they should be looked at as having done the right thing and the kind thing.”
On Tuesday, a white sign that can be seen near the ranch off Highway 101 in the South County simply read, “Annie Back.” Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.