Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Annie's former owner, Chuck Hoage.
Barraged by calls from angry constituents, a member of the county Board of Supervisors and top county officials met Thursday to find a way to reunite Annie, an Australian shepherd, with her former owner, Chuck Hoage.
As they were meeting, supporters of reuniting Hoage with Annie planned a rally at the Thursday night Farmers Market in San Luis Obispo.
Annie bolted from Hoage in Nipomo in June after a gunshot startled her. She went missing for weeks, then ended up at the county animal shelter and was adopted by a new owner.
Hoage searched for Annie for weeks, then learned about the adoption, and has been trying to get the animal back.
The new owners, however, have refused to give up 8-year-old Annie.
The issue became a cause célèbre after a Tribune columnist wrote about it and local radio talk-show host Dave Congalton, a well-known dog lover, took up the cause. He called on county leaders to use their influence to return Annie to Hoage.
That became the goal of county officials Thursday.
“We’re trying to make everybody happy,” said Supervisor Adam Hill, who has two Australian shepherds.
He said they will seek a way to pay any expenses incurred by the new owners for adopting Annie, including the cost of a microchip, and to buy them a new puppy.
“It just makes sense. This is the guy’s dog,” Hill said.
There are questions about miscommunication between Hoage and the shelter, and possible imperfections in the notification system for lost dogs, Hill conceded. But the immediate goal is reunification.
He planned to meet with Jim Grant, county administrative officer; Jeff Hamm, director of the county health agency; and County Counsel Warren Jensen in case the county decides to explore legal options for returning Annie to Hoage.
Hill made clear, however, that nobody wants to take that route.