Nipomo man won't get dog back unless new owner changes mind, official says

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Annie's former owner, Chuck Hoage.

The South County man whose missing dog was adopted by someone else is not likely to get her back unless the new owner changes his mind, the man in charge of county animal services said Wednesday.

Chuck Hoage’s dog Annie went missing in Nipomo in June and ended up in the county animal shelter a week later. A new owner adopted him.

Hoage, who had been searching for Annie, found out, and tried to get the dog, an 8-year-old Australian shepherd, returned.

Employees at the county shelter contacted the new owners, who declined to give up Annie.

Jeff Hamm, said director of the County Health Agency, which supervises the shelter and its employees, said his animal services division employees handled the case appropriately.

The new owner, he said, adopted, licensed, and microchipped Annie, who had been in the shelter for days, and whose description was on the call-in “found dog” line at least three times.

Hoage said he called the shelter and didn’t hear Annie described.

Hamm added that he will be meeting Thursday morning with Dr. Eric Anderson, Animal Services Manager for the San Luis Obispo County Health Agency, to try to “figure out a way to keep this from happening again.”

Hamm said Anderson — and the county Board of Supervisors — has been getting a tremendous amount of heat since Hoage’s plight was brought to light in a column in The Tribune Sunday and later picked up by dog-loving radio talk show host Dave Congalton.

Hamm called the subsequent complaints to the county seeking to have Annie returned to Hoage a “feeding frenzy.”

Hamm also said this is not the first time an owner has become inadvertently separated from a dog only to have the animal adopted out. Sometimes the new owners relent and give the dog back, sometimes they don’t, he said.

As to the process that led to Annie changing owners, Hamm said there is no documentation that Hoage ever filed a lost dog report or came to the shelter to look for her.

While he would not name the new owners, he said it is nobody employed by or “is affiliated in any way” with the shelter, as some rumors have it.