The Vancouver Columbian reported last week that a Battle Ground firefighter named William Jones relinquished his dog, a black lab-mix named Hunter, to the Humane Society for Southwest Washington (HSSW) because he refused to pay the fine for an unleashed dog.
HSSW picked up Hunter on October 14. I first wrote about him last August when Clark County Animal Control picked him up.
Hunter had no tags or microchip when he was picked up in August, so HSSW held him for 6 days (twice as long as the law requires) to see if his owner would show up to claim him. No one did, so they put Hunter up for adoption. A Vancouver family adopted him 4 days later.
Because Jones was in Eastern Washington fighting fires, he didn’t know that Hunter had escaped from the person who kept him while he was gone.
When he returned he went to HSSW to see if Hunter had been picked up, but he was told another family adopted him.
Because HSSW transferred ownership of Hunter to his new family (which they do for all the animals they adopt out), it couldn’t legally take Hunter back and give him to Jones.
Jones then created a social media firestorm when he posted Hunter’s story on HSSW’s Facebook page and saying he wanted Hunter back. His story outraged many people, and they flooded HSSW’s Facebook page with angry messages demanding that the organization and/or the family that adopted Hunter return him to Jones.
Even though the family spent more than $1000 for Hunter’s medical care and built a fence in their yard to prevent Hunter from escaping, they returned him to HSSW and said “they are deeply saddened, but understand that William needs his dog.”
Last week, Paul Scarpelli told the Columbian that “animal control had received multiple reports of the dog getting loose before Hunter was brought in this month…and from before he was picked up and adopted by a new family around late August.”
Since the beginning of this saga, HSSW has been the target of withering criticism, first from people who said it should have given Hunter back to Jones, and now from others saying HSSW should have never given Hunter back to Jones.
In my opinion, William Jones is the only one responsible for this fiasco because:
- He apparently made no effort to prevent Hunter from escaping multiple times or finding a secure place Hunter could stay when he was gone.
- Hunter didn’t have a chip or collar when animal control picked him up in August. If Hunter had some form of ID, HSSW would have never put him up for adoption while Jones was gone.
- Hunter continued to escape after Jones got him back from the family that adopted him in August.
And now we find out that Jones relinquished Hunter to HSSW because he refused to pay a hundred dollar fine to get him back.
“We gave William every opportunity to come and pick up Hunter,” Lisa Feder, vice president and director of shelter operations told the Collumbian. “I am surprised and saddened that William has not chosen to come pick his dog up this time around.”
HSSW officials told the Columbian that it would find a new home for Hunter privately rather than going through the shelter’s normal adoption process “to avoid more drama.”
I think that’s the best scenario to find a permanent home for Hunter with a family that will give him the love and care he deserves (of course, he would already have one if people hadn’t attacked the family that adopted him on social media).
I also believe that the criticism HSSW had to endure regarding how it handled Hunter is absolutely unfair.
“People were saying not-very-nice things about the Humane Society without really knowing the facts,” Mr. Scarpelli told the Columbian. “Perhaps we should learn from it how we can be a better dog owner, pet owner.”
I couldn’t agree more.