sugar (center) and the abbott family, ashley (left), 8, mary, aldrich, 10, david, and lauren, 13. (photo by tom dorsey / salina journal) | buy journal photos


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untagged dog returns to family


by joel pruett | salina journal

sugar wasn’t gone long, but straying nearly made her an orphan who would be shipped hundreds of miles away.

the short-lived adventure turned into an ordeal for her humans, the david and mary abbott family, 3120 n. halstead.

their german shepherd/great pyrenees mix was nearly lost for good when an important deadline was missed, and salina animal shelter workers made plans to ship her to a shelter in northern colorado.

it took some effort, and the kind heart of shelter officer manager danny porter, to return the big white dog to the abbotts.

“they’re very fortunate to get their dog back, with no i.d. on it,” porter said.

sugar’s adventure began july 9. at least, that’s when family members noticed she was missing.

the salina animal shelter noticed the dog that evening as well.

porter said sugar was confined by another person at the interstate highway 70 exit at halstead road, and employees of the animal shelter were called out to retrieve her.

although sugar was quickly located, she ended up having a long vacation — until july 26.

abbott said his dog had such a long stay at the shelter because it took a great deal of time and persistence to bring her home.

his wife, mary, first called the shelter on july 12, asking if sugar, which she described as “pure white,” had been found. he said a shelter employee reported that no such dog was in the shelter.

at that point, abbott said he became concerned that the large family dog, which was responsible for protecting his goats, chickens and other livestock from coyotes, might have been stolen.

he said shelter employees asked his wife to go to the shelter to complete a lost-dog report, but since his wife had been told the dog was not there, she didn’t see a reason to complete a report. he said his wife had plans to go to the shelter to fill out a report but never made it in.

on july 22, the family found the dog’s photo on

although his children were excited to finally have found their dog, a follow-up call to the shelter was a bit discouraging.

after asking to have the dog back, abbott said he was told, “no, there’s no way. we can’t do that.”

shelter takes ownership

legally, he was told, the dog no longer belonged to abbott.

porter said the dog, after having stayed in the shelter for 72 hours — excluding the day of pickup and a sunday — became the property of the salina animal shelter on july 14.

porter said shelter employees didn’t tell the abbott family about the dog on july 12 because the abbott family’s description didn’t match the shelter’s description, and the dog had “absolutely no i.d. on it.”

though the abbott family described their dog as a pure-white german shepherd/great pyrenees mix, the shelter described the dog as a blonde labrador/shepherd mix. porter said the dog was missing its rabies tags when it was picked up.

porter said communication errors like this show why it’s important to file a report when a dog is missing.

“all of our officers stress this: we don’t take loss reports over the phone,” he said. “they were probably told to come in and verify that their dog was not here.”

as the legal property of the animal shelter, which had a full 48-dog kennel, the dog was transferred into a local foster home on about july 22, porter said. it was awaiting transport to boulder, colo., where it would be placed in the hands of its new adoptive owner: the boulder humane society.

canceled trip

the dog never made it to colorado.

the rescue waggin’, a volunteer- and charity-based organization that coordinates regular dog shipments from the salina animal shelter to the boulder, colo., humane society, had a scheduled pickup in salina on july 27, but the abbott family made it to the shelter july 26, demanding the return of their dog.

the family’s only proof of ownership was a cell phone photo, a description of the dog’s recently implanted stitches and the dog’s affection for the abbott children.

but porter said he worked with the family.

“legally, he wouldn’t have had to get his dog back,” porter said. “we had to do some finagling to get it back to them.”

after paying the $160 boarding fee and the $30 impound fee, abbott said he decided to take measures to ensure his dog would never be without i.d. again.

abbott paid the shelter a $15 fee to have his dog fitted with a microchip implant.

to save other families from similar hassles, porter said he “would definitely recommend the microchip.” he said implantation doesn’t require surgery.

“it takes longer to fill out the paperwork than to implant the microchip,” porter said. “it’s probably a five-minute process.”

he said the nationwide microchipping program provides a bit of extra security for dog owners, because other families might not be as fortunate as the abbott family.

despite the complications, porter said he’s glad the abbott family was reunited with their dog.

nreporter joel pruett can be reached at 823-6464, ext. 149, or by e-mail at [email protected].

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