Auburndale, Florida – On September 29, 2016 Kristi Durham’s special needs dog “Lefty” got out during a storm. She posted on message boards, called animal shelters and called Polk County Animal Control. Unfortunately the dog ended up being euthanized a short time later. The owners are beside themselves as their dog was chipped. Many citizens expressed sadness and frustration that the county would so quickly euthanize the dog.
According to the Polk County Animal Control (AC) the dog was brought to AC by a man who saw it stumbling in the middle of Havendale Blvd. The man is unfamiliar with the Winter Haven area, so he Googled “vets” and drove the dog to the nearest one. He doesn’t know who that vet is, but that vet examined the dog and said it needed to be euthanized but to bring it to AC to have that done. According to the man who found the dog, the vet scanned the dog but didn’t find a chip in it. The man left without any paperwork because the vet just did a quick exam of the dog and didn’t charge him.
The man brought the dog to AC and told them what was going on with the dog. The AC vet also felt that the dog needed to be euthanized due to its behavior which indicated a severe brain injury or infection. They scanned the dog for a chip first, and found one – and they contacted 24 Hour Pet Watch trying to get the phone number assigned to that chip. According to AC they spent between 15-20 minutes on the phone with the company. They read back the number digit by digit to make sure it was right, due to the fact that it was an odd area code. The number the company gave was a disconnected Kentucky number.
The dog didn’t have tags and was not registered with Animal Control in any other way. Animal control didn’t have any other way to find the owner. They euthanized the dog.
On Friday, an AC officer saw the dog on the Facebook lost and found pet page, and called the number listed on that posting (which is a different number, off by 2 digits, from what they had on file from 24 Hr Pet Watch).
According to Carrie Horstman, PCSO, the AC receive 50-75 calls a day from pet owners who have lost their pets, asking if they have them. When they get a call, they look in their online database to see if the pet being described over the phone has been entered into our kennel and online database. They tell the caller to please come to AC and physically walk the kennels to see if their pet is there – often a description over the phone is not good enough for us to confirm that the pet is there. Even when they enter the pet into the online database with a photo, they tell pet owners, you should still come to AC and walk the kennels because the photo may not look like the dog but it’s still your dog. If the dog has a tag on it, obviously they use that as the identifier, or if it has a chip that is registered with the company we use, which is Home Again. If it has a chip registered to a different microchip company, they call that company and get the owner info, which is what they did here.
Anyone that has a dog microchipped with any service, can come to AC and have the data entered into the system that we use, which is Home Again. They encourage pet owners to do this. They also encourage them to have their dog tags updated in the Polk County system and to wear their tags at all times.
They are aware now in reviewing this dog’s story, that the owner called AC prior to the dog arriving there. Also, the dog was not entered into their database because it was not entered into the kennel – it was euthanized due to the Vet examination. When they have lost or strays brought to us, or they pick them up in our trucks, if they can’t locate an owner they typically will get entered into their searchable online database, and remain in our kennels for 4-7 days.
The microchip company where the dog was registered, “24 Hour Pet Watch” gave the AC a bad number. It is different from the owner’s number by 2 digits. The have the person’s name listed as Jason Durham of Kentucky but the number they gave was disconnected. Because the address assigned to it was in Kentucky and the area code was also out of town, they didn’t have the option of driving to a house to find an owner.
This is a developing story. We will update as more information is available.