A Caldwell family is heartbroken after learning their missing dog was euthanized at the West Valley Humane Society several days after they filled a missing pet report.
Sheila Combs says their six-year-old Chihuahua Boston Terrier mix, Bunny, snuck under their driveway gate while she was feeding their horses on January 31. She and her husband drove around for hours but couldn’t find Bunny anywhere.
The next day she filed a missing pet report in person at the West Valley Humane Society in Caldwell, with an 8x10 photo of the dog and detailed information on her size, markings, injured back leg and three missing teeth.
Combs then had to leave town for several days and when she returned on February 9, she visited the shelter again to see if Bunny was ever dropped off.
According to shelter records, the dog was dropped off several days earlier on February 4 by animal control, but somehow when she toured the facility, Sheila was never reunited with her beloved pet.
“They took me through all the rooms in the back where the dogs are in crates, and the new dogs that come in,” Combs said. “She wasn't there.”
West Valley Humane Society Executive Director Jonathan Perry says it’s unclear how Combs didn’t see Bunny in the lost and found area.
“As far as we know, it was always in the same kennel in the back, so it should've been seen,” Perry said.
Two days later, on February 11, Combs received a call from a stranger who say her posts on her missing pet, informing Sheila she saw Bunny on the shelter’s website, prompting Combs to immediately call the shelter.
“I said, ‘Listen! You've got to listen! That dog, "Tanna" on your website is my dog, I made a report, it's in your book. I'm coming, it's my dog don't adopt her!" Combs explained.
By the time Sheila made it to the shelter roughly 20 minutes later, it was too late.
Perry says the shelter vet saw stroke or seizure-like symptoms several times in Bunny beginning on February 7, and decided on the eleventh it was best for the dog to be put down.
Bunny was euthanized at 2:29 p.m. on Thursday, less than an hour before Sheila showed up hoping to take her home.
“This situation has been really heart wrenching for all of us,” executive director Perry said. “We're very concerned about why this happened. We don't want something like this to happen again.”
Combs remains frustrated on why she was never contacted by the shelter when Bunny was taken in, since she provided them with contact information, a photo and detailed description three days prior to her being dropped off.
Perry says it’s a procedural issue that they “need to work on”. Right now, the non-profit shelter has 20 staff members and 150 volunteers. Missing pet reports are filed into a large three-ring binder that grows in size each day.
“We do try to look through it but for whatever reason it was missed,” Perry said. “The connection wasn't made.”
Bunny wasn’t microchipped and due to her sensitive skin, she wasn’t wearing a collar at the time – something the shelter’s executive director says could have prevented the whole mix up.
While he says they plan to make procedural improvements to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again, he recommends all pet owners keep a current photo of their pets, always keep a collar on, and be sure all tag and microchip information is current and regularly updated.
Perry says the shelter will update microchip contact information for free.