Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Animal Control Adopts Out Dog After Owner Was in Hospital for Too Long

I want to first state that I do NOT think this is a particularly easy issue nor do I think there is an equitable solution. By equitable, I mean literally fair. That is not possible, since both guardians of the dog love him dearly and would not want to part with him - in the end, someone will suffer. At the very least, it does not sound like the dog is going to be one of those suffering, which is good.

So here is the deal: A man was in the hospital for eight weeks. Since he lived alone, animal control in Independence, Missouri, was legally bound to confiscate his dog, a Husky the man has had since 2003. By law, the dog could be held for 10 days, then placed up for adoption.

Animal control's "attempts" at contacting the owner seems to only include a note left on his door.

It is difficult for a person in the hospital to see a note on his door. It is also difficult to understand why the shelter, which knew of the owner's situation, did not bother to figure out at which hospital the owner was located. So far as I can tell, Independence, Missouri is not exactly replete with hospitals.

The man was admitted to the hospital March 16th. His sister called the shelter about Kino, the dog, on March 29th. Unfortunately, the dog had been adopted the day before.

Okay, here's where I try very hard to be super empathetic and think about the sister and what might have been going on in her life. Her brother's in the hospital and I can only assume she has her own life and its responsibilities to deal with too.

But it's hard. Because if this was my brother and the shelter had stated they just adopted the dog out the day prior, I'd make a big deal out of it. Because I'd know my brother, who is also a paraplegic and who relied emotionally on Kino to get through life (he ended up in the hospital b/c he wouldn't leave Kino alone and left a medical issue go untreated). I'd know that Kino was at least 8 years old and had been with my brother for the past eight years. These are things I'd just know. And I'd also guess that a family who has just spent one day with an adopted dog could be persuaded or - hey, I'll go there - coerced into returning the dog.

She didn't. And so I kind of cringe at her sudden "woe is me" story when really, she had ten whole days - 240 hours - in which to call animal control and be like "yo, I don't got a lotta time here but you got my brother's dog; he's in the hospital, let's work something out."

So now here we are in May. The adoptive family has had the dog since March and really loves him and despite knowing that Kino's previous guardian has loved Kino for eight years, has suffered immensely, is disabled and thus does not have equal access in this ableist world...they are refusing to return him.

I mean, I get it. I really do. I fell in love with Mina on Day One. I can't tell you how hard I fell for the little pink-nosed girl. Even if she had been fat and healthy, I'd have to be doing some serious home inspections before I'd return the little nymph.

But I'd like to think that if Mina's previous guardian was like this brother, loving his dog fiercely for the past 8 years, and knowing Kino was not at animal control b/c his previous guardian let him run loose or abandoned him...well, I'd probably give Mina back. That Kino's current family refuses speaks to me of defensiveness and a patent unwillingness to acknowledge the past eight years Kino and this man have shared together. Maybe there's more to the story than we're being told, but even at face value, it sucks. On all ends.

Mainly, though, I'm thinking of this man, Craig, coming back to an empty home, realizing how badly his own family failed him and not having his real family - Kino - to cry with.

What is fair in this situation? Can there even BE fairness?

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