MODESTO — Laurie Lasater of Modesto paid $100 for license fees and a microchip when she adopted a dog for her baby son, Tyler, about two years ago. And she paid $12 to renew the license in January.
After going to that expense, Lasater is miffed at the way Animal Services authorities handled things when Pugsly was lost recently and then brought by police to the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency shelter on Cornucopia Way.
Lasater claims that animal shelter staff didnt use the microchip or tag information to call her, but instead offered Pugsly for adoption on the shelters website. She also said her boyfriend was charged $75 to recover the pet from the shelter Friday.
Annette Patton, the agencys director, acknowledged the shelter did not call the owner for two days after police delivered Pugsly on Feb. 5. But she said the dog was not offered for adoption and that the shelter was not about to put her under, as Lasater charged.
Recent campaigns to increase dog licensing in Stanislaus County and assess $100 penalties for unlicensed pets could raise public expectations about whats supposed to happen when tagged canines are lost and then brought to the shelter.
Lasater said Pugsly has a calming influence on 2-year-old Tyler, who has autism. The dog was missing for a week after she darted out the front door of their home and didnt come back.
Lasater said she and her boyfriend filed a lost-animal report Feb. 3 at the animal shelter and urged office employees to call them if Pugsly was brought to the shelter.
She had no idea that a Modesto officer brought Pugsly to the facility two days later. About 4:45 Friday afternoon, she happened to look at the shelters website and saw the dogs picture. She said the dogs name and other information was on the site, so its clear staff had looked up the license, she said.
The Modesto woman called her boyfriend and asked him to rush to the shelter to reclaim Pugsly. He was required to pay $75 in fees before taking Pugsly home.
Lasater suggested that the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency, serving the county and five of its cities, is more interested in generating revenue with dog licensing than providing service. If you lose your dog, dont depend on that pound to call you, she said, adding that the $75 in impound fees were excessive.
Patton defended how Animal Services handled the lost dog. She said reports show Pugsly was aggressive when recovered by a Modesto officer and after arriving at the shelter, so the microchip was not scanned for information.
Patton said staff let the dog settle down, and the owner information was documented. The shelter put a 10-day hold on the dog, she said, meaning the owner is given time to reclaim the animal. According to policy, the shelter holds tagged animals for at least seven days. Those without identification are held four days and then are placed for adoption or euthanized.
To contact owners of licensed dogs, we do a phone call as a courtesy, Patton said. We dont call everyone. We do send a letter every time. The director contended the process worked with Pugsly because the owner reclaimed the dog two days after its arrival at the shelter.
Patton noted that 262 dogs held at the shelter were reclaimed by owners from November through January. Of those animals, 90 percent were wearing tags and 50 percent had microchips.
Many local dog owners are under pressure to purchase a $12 annual license or pay $150 for an unaltered animal. Since November, the agency has sent 7,900 letters to unlicensed owners threatening $100 citations if they dont comply with the rules.
John Bear, animal control supervisor for Modesto, said the citys two animal control officers carry hand-held chip scanners to identify owners of the dogs they capture. They may not use them if the dog is aggressive or if theres a large call volume that day, he said.
When we have one officer for the entire city, we dont want an officer to be get bit and be taken off duty with an injury, Bear said. There are times when our scanners are not strong enough or the microchip has migrated deeper under the dogs skin.
Bear firmly believes in dog licensing and use of microchips. Officers make an effort to notify owners who have licensed their dogs. Microchips can verify ownership if another person takes possession of a found dog.
Lasater said shes not satisfied with the explanations from the Animal Services Agency. She said Pugsly is a nice animal that sleeps on her bed at night. I think the $75 should be reimbursed. They knew who the dog belonged to and they didnt bother calling me, she said.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2321.