Annie the dog will likely stay with new owner


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 or her mind, the official in charge of county animal services said Wednesday.

Chuck Hoage’s dog, Annie, went missing in Nipomo in June and ended up at the county animal shelter a week later. A new owner, whom the county has not identified, adopted her.

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

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

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

The new owner, Hamm said, adopted, licensed and had a microchip identification tag put into Annie. She had been in the shelter for days, and her 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 said that he will be meeting today with Eric Anderson, animal services manager, to try to “figure out a way to keep this from happening again.”

Hamm said Anderson and the county Board of Supervisors have received a tremendous amount of heat since Hoage’s plight was described in a column in The Tribune on Sunday and picked up this week by local radio talk show host Dave Congalton.

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

He also said this is not the first time an owner was inadvertently separated from a dog only to have the animal adopted out. Sometimes the new owners relent and give the dog back, but sometimes they don’t, Hamm 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, Hamm said it is nobody employed by or “affiliated in any way” with the shelter, as some rumors have it.