Thursday, February 25, 2010

LETTER: Owner, Dog Finally Reunited

To the editor
I am writing the letter in regards to a recent situation concerning the Socorro Animal Shelter and its current employees. After sharing my story with others, I was encouraged to write a letter about my recent encounter with Socorro Animal Shelter by many other members of our community. I am hoping that the concerns stated within this letter bring about change.
On January 9th, 2010 my husband and I noticed that our dog, Payton, was missing. We immediately patrolled the area and were unsuccessful in our attempts to find her. Payton had all of her vaccines and had an ID tag with our contact information on it. I was hopeful that she would be found and safely returned to us. On January 12th, I phoned the Socorro Animal Shelter to inquire as to whether Payton had ended up at the shelter. I was told that there were no dogs and only a few cats currently at the shelter. A few more days went by and I phoned the shelter again. Payton still had not been found. I phoned the shelter a third time the following week and still, no sign of Payton. Sadly, my family and I assumed the worst.
On Saturday, February 13th, I received a call from a woman named Tracy Peralta. Mrs. Peralta said she had adopted our dog from the Socorro Animal Shelter a couple days earlier, but had suddenly noticed the ID tag and decided to attempt contacting the dog’s owner. Mrs. Peralta told me that she had adopted the dog and paid the fee of $100 for her. I was shocked. The shelter had sold my dog with the ID tags still on to another owner! How can something like this happen? I was hopeful that someone would see my pet’s ID tag and notify us immediately if she was found.
I was never notified by Socorro Animal Shelter that Payton had arrived at the facility. The fact that she was sold for $100 to another owner while still wearing her ID tag which had all of my contact information truly upsets me. I am eternally grateful to Mrs. Peralta for taking notice of the ID tag and phoning me. I have since had my dog returned and Mrs. Peralta’s adoption fees have been refunded. However, I cannot help but wonder how an animal with an ID tag could be sold without the owner ever being contacted.
As previously stated, I had phoned the shelter three times, and each phone call was unsuccessful for locating my pet. Each time I spoke with the shelter employee on the phone, I gave full detail of my pet and clearly stated that my pet had an ID tag. On February 17th, I went into the shelter to discuss my concerns as to why I was never notified by the shelter that my pet was being held there. An employee by the name of Sabrina was working there when I arrived. I waited patiently as she worked with a customer. She had phoned her boss because the customer had a question. I waited for her to finish servicing the customer, and then proceeded to explain my situation to her.
I asked if she happened to know who sold my dog. Sabrina replied “It wasn’t me. I just started here recently.” She then told me to come back tomorrow and her boss would be there. I asked her if she would please phone her boss since she had just met with another customer before me and had just called her boss on the phone while I was there. Before phoning her boss, Sabrina suddenly admitted that she was, in fact, the person who sold my dog to Mrs. Peralta. I do not appreciate being lied to. Sabrina reluctantly phoned her boss, Nicole Winders, and I spoke with Nicole on the phone.
I asked Nicole why I was never notified that my pet had arrived at the shelter. She said that I was, in fact, phoned. I argued that I never received a call from anyone at the shelter. She then said that Payton had appeared in a flyer around town under the name Sienna. I did not see this flyer. But, even still, my pet was wearing an ID tag with her name on it. Therefore, why would she be placed in a flyer under a different name? Nicole then told proceeded to tell me that I had to pay the fees for having my pet housed at the shelter. I was outraged. I explained to Nicole was never notified and had I received a phone call, I would have immediately and gratefully picked up my pet from the shelter. Nicole then said “Fine. Just take your dog.” I then asked her if she really even cared about the animals.
She replied “Of course we care. If we didn’t care we would have put her down.” Nicole then explained that an owner has six days to claim their pet once they have been notified that the animal was being held at the shelter. I am eternally grateful that Mrs. Peralta rescued my pet when she did, or I may have lost my pet for good.
Mrs. Peralta was kind enough to phone us when she saw our contact information on Payton’s ID tag. I was never notified by Socorro Animal Shelter. Ms. Winders repeatedly argued that she had phoned me. This is not true. Mrs. Peralta could have easily ignored the ID tag and kept the dog as her own, but she chose to do the right thing and call the dog’s owner. Payton is now home safe, thanks to Mrs. Peralta’s kindness and thoughtfulness. She is truly is good citizen in our community.
Lost animals are in the care of the people at Socorro Animal Shelter daily and if an animal has an ID tag, shouldn’t all attempts be made to immediately contact the owner? I am outraged at the carelessness and unprofessionalism displayed by the shelter’s employees. Mrs. Peralta says she now questions what happened to her own dog that went missing. Her pet was micro chipped and never returned. Was her pet carelessly sold as well? We may never know.

Bernadette C. Ulibarri

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