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East Bay SPCA Home
The East Bay SPCA saves 
     and improves the lives of cats and dogs and connects
     people and pets in our community.











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Welcome to Shelter Life at the East Bay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

We began as the Oakland SPCA in 1874. Today, the East Bay SPCA includes two animal shelters and three clinics in our community.

This is our day.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Benefit of the doubt

A staff member told me a client was waiting to talk about returning a dog and getting a refund. I tried to look up information on the client before I took the call, but couldn't find any.

So I took the call. The actual client was not on the phone; it was her friend. She again asked if the client could have a refund for the dog. I asked to speak directly with the client. After some back and forth, the client got on the phone. She told me that her landlord would not let her keep her nice, sweet, indoor dog. I asked if she had gotten anything in writing from the landlord allowing her to have dogs. She said no. (We don't ask for documentation of this, but we do ask that renters have prior approval.)

I told her we couldn't give her a refund and explained how we lost money on every adoption and even if we took her back and got her adopted again, we would again spend money on her food, housing, training etc. The client said she would sell the dog to a friend if she couldn't get her money back.

I explained that this wasn't the best option since we could try, again, to find a forever home and help the new owner understand the dog's needs (crate, tether, etc). She seemed to understand that part. I asked her when she could bring the dog in, and told her that since we were closed, I would need to meet her out front. She then told me for the first time that she didn't really have the dog. I asked where the dog was. She said that "the pound" had come and taken her dog. I asked, "why do you think that?" She said that her landlord had called the pound to come and get her. I asked how the pound could come inside her house and take her dog? She swore up and down that is what happened.

I asked again how they could have gotten inside to get the dog, and then she finally said that the dog was actually outside when it happened. "Outside?" I said, "I thought he was an inside dog." She said she had just let him out to go potty when it happened. "What time was this?" I asked. "Around 6pm Sunday night," she said. I informed her that the pound did not work Sunday evenings. She said that it had to have been them, because the dog was gone.

I again said that it could not be animal control, so I asked her to walk me through exactly what happened that night:

She said she let the dog outside to go potty and went back in the house. Then when she went to check on the dog, it was gone. I asked if she talked to neighbors or posted dog lost signs, which is what I recommend to everyone who has lost a dog, and she said "no," because she was sure that he had been taken. See, she thought the dog would never run away from her. I told her I would do my best to contact the various local animal control agencies to see if I could find her dog. (The dog is microchipped, thank god!) She again asked if she could get a refund. I said no, and thanked her and we hung up.

Minutes later, she called me back. She had talked with her neighbor. The dog had, in fact, chewed a hole in the fence and gotten into her neighbor's yard and her neighbor had let the dog out. Therefore, it was the neighbor's fault that the dog was lost.

I asked again about the hole and asked how long the dog was outside. She said her yard was safe and secure and that the dog could not have gotten out. I said, "but, he did."

She said it was not her fault and that she did the right thing by calling me to tell me about it. I reminded her that she actually did not call to tell me the dog was missing; she had only called to tell me she wanted a refund for a dog she did not want, and did not even have, any longer.

She didn't like that and told me that I had no business saying these things to her, and that she was doing the right thing, and that she wasn't at fault for losing the dog. She loves(-ed) the dog. I told her that she had the dog, and she let the dog out and now the dog was missing. I said that sure sounded like her fault to me. (She didn't like that either.) She yelled at me for a while, and I kept my mouth shut and just listened. She stopped yelling when I didn't respond, and I said "thank you for calling," and "goodbye."

Afterwards, I emailed the nearby animal control agencies to give them a heads up if the dog is ever found.

The truly sad thing is that this client was questionable at the time of the adoption (the client had had previous dogs get "lost") but we gave her the benefit of the doubt and completed the adoption anyhow. We get it right most of the time, but not always.

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