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Animal Services reunites lost dog with its owner

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

The Davis family from left, Brenda, Loretta, Katelyn and Claudia are reunited with their beloved family dog, Baby, at the Madera County Animal Shelter.


After a journey that took almost a month, Baby the dog was reunited with his original owner, Loretta Davis, and her family at the Madera Animal Shelter earlier this week.

Davis originally lost her dog on April 1. Through a series of phone calls, misdirections and miscommunication, Davis finally found Baby and the Madera Animal Shelter did everything it could and reunited the family with the dog on Monday. Davis had Baby as a puppy in 2013 and Baby survived Parvo.

“It was joy and a lot of relief of stress,” Davis said. “He helps us all with our anxiety. We all love him so much, we really missed him and we were worried and concerned. He is our support animal. He’s beloved. He was the sweetest little thing. He used to prance around the house. He got sick with Parvo and he had to stay at the vet for four days. We went every day to be with him. We almost lost him.”

“It is the most rewarding thing to reunite families with pets,” said Cindy Avila, Madera County Animal Services Director. “It is our favorite thing. Our ultimate goal is to reunite dogs with their owner. It’s always best to get them back to their owners. This one with Baby, I can’t even describe the joy I felt.”

Baby’s adventure, or mis-adventure, began when he got out of the backyard and found his way to a nearby gas station.

“Baby’s owner lives next door to a gas station in Selma,” Avila said. “Evidently, Baby got out from a back gate and went to the gas station. A woman driving through town saw Baby at the gas station and thought it was a lost dog and picked it up. She went into the gas station and left her name and phone number and says if anyone asks, I have the dog and they can call me.

“When the owner got home, they were frantically looking for Baby, and ended up at the gas station. The gal said a woman picked him up and here is the name and number. She called the gal and said she took it to Hanford and gave a location. She said the dog got away.”

“I could tell the lady was dishonest,” Davis said. “She left a note with her name and number. The name she left was Arlene. I contacted them on Easter Sunday and asked if they had my dog. She said she would call us back because she took the dog to her grandmother’s house. Me and my friend waited along with the girl at the station. The girl called me back and said she took Baby to her grandmother’s and Baby dug a hole in her backyard and got away. She was going to take the dog in the morning to get chipped in Hanford. I asked where in Hanford. She wouldn’t give an area. All I wanted to do was post pictures and look for him.”

“Baby’s Loretta went up and down the area where Baby was supposedly lost,” Avila said. “Loretta never found him. She contacted the number she was given and was given the run around. She went to all the local shelters, made a police report and did everything she could to find Baby in her area. She went to Hanford to cover all her bases.”

Davis was frustrated she couldn’t get a straight answer from the person that allegedly found her dog and did a Google search on the number.

“I was so scared for him,” Davis said. “He’s an inside dog. It didn’t sit right with us. I started a Google search to look up her name and it popped up a name in Madera.”

Davis then searched through the Madera County Animal Shelter’s website to try to find Baby and, lo and behold, she found him.

“I thought to go through Madera and I saw the picture I posted,” Davis said. “I couldn’t believe it and I asked my daughter and son if the picture we saw was Baby. That was at 8 p.m. on a Friday. I started texting and looking for someone to get connected with. I got connected with one of the guys that work there. I said that was my dog and he was stolen from Selma. The lady lied to us and gave us the wrong information where Baby was at.”

Unfortunately, by the time Davis did her detective work to find Baby, the dog had been adopted out to a family in the Bay Area.

“A gal said she was in the Taco Bell drive thru on Howard and saw this dog under a van in the car in front of her,” Avila said. “She thought the dog was going to get run over. She opened her door and called for the dog. The dog went right over to her and jumped in her car.”

The Madera County Animal Shelter took possession of Baby on April 5.

“The Madera person who found the dog at Taco Bell brought the dog to us and explained the story and we took the dog in,” Avila said. “What we do is have rescue groups come to our shelter a couple times a week. They take dogs they are interested in and foster them. We are required to hold all strays for three days. This dog didn’t have any ID or was microchipped. It was considered a stray. What we do to make room in our shelter, we allow rescue groups to take the dogs. We take their pictures and post them on our website. If somebody is looking for them, they can locate them. This rescue group took Baby to the Bay Area. He sat there in his stray-hold. After the hold was over, a family came in and adopted Baby. Baby was in his new home on April 14. He had been missing for a couple of weeks, already.”

Davis’ call to the Animal Shelter occurred after Baby was adopted. However, Avila and her team did what they could to get Baby back to Davis.

“I called the rescue and they can’t tell me who adopted Baby,” Avila said. “I explained the whole story to them and asked if they could go to the family and see if they would be willing to be give him up. I started that last Thursday, April 22. We didn’t get confirmation that Baby was going to be coming back until Sunday at 5 p.m. The family wasn’t obligated to give Baby back. Baby’s original owner wrote me an email and asked me to send it to the family. I sent it to the rescue to send it to the owners. I think once they understood everything that was involved, they finally said we have to give the dog back.”

Avila got the call she had been waiting for and shared the good news with Davis. The Davis family couldn’t wait until Monday to come to be able to pick up Baby.

“They gave it back to the rescue and this particular rescue generally coms to us on Mondays,” Avila said. “So they brought Baby back on Monday. I called Loretta the minute Baby was in their hands and told her he was coming back tomorrow. I told her approximately what time Baby was going to be here. She showed up with half her family. We reunited Baby with her family. It was so heartwarming. Baby was so excited. He’s a cool little dog.”

“We all cried when we found out Baby was coming back,” Davis said. “Baby really helps my daughter out a lot. We were all overly joyed and happy. Monday came and we all piled in the car to get Baby.”

Avila said two lessons could be learned in this situation. The first is to get your pet microchipped. The second is to not take the dog out of the area.

“My biggest take out of all of this is microchip your dog,” Avila said. “If Baby has been microchipped, this never would have happened. We scan everything that comes through here. You have to keep up on it with the company if you change your address or phone number. Once it’s in there, it’s permanent. We’ve had animals that have been lost for two years reunited. It’s the ultimate solution. They really are ideal. Every animal should have a chip.”

The Madera County Animal Shelter can microchip a pet every day of the week by appointment. The chips are $20.

“It’s peace of mind and a permanent form of ID,” Avila said. “Once a week, we’ll do a drive thru. Anybody can still, no matter what day, make an appointment.”

In fact, because of the microchip, Avila recently returned a dog to an owner in Oregon.

“The gal gave her dog away because she had health issues,” she said. “The dog ended up in Chowchilla. Nobody reclaimed it. We called her. She said she is in better health and wanted to dog back so we’re driving it back to her. That was through a microchip.”

Avila said that most dogs, when they get lost, don’t stray more than a couple blocks from where they live so it’s imperative that, if found, they get reported to the local animal shelter.

“We tell people that if you find a dog, don’t take it out of the county,” Avila said. “This woman, if she hadn’t been persistent and smart to track Baby down, she never would have found her dog. If you find a dog, take it to the local shelter. It’s best to ask around or go door to door. Generally, dogs are within a block of where they live. If people make an effort, they can find the owners.

“The woman who took Baby lied about it. She said she lived in Hanford when she wasn’t and that threw it off. That was a rotten thing for that person to do.”

“I texted the lady that she shouldn’t have led us on,” Davis said. “She should have left the dog there. We were looking for him and heard his bark. I told her you did more harm than good. She texted me that she found the dog and he was thirsty. He wasn’t thirsty. He was panicked and scared.”

Now, Baby is back home and already marked his territory, according to Davis.

“He played with the other dogs,” she said. “He always sleeps with me. We cuddled together.”

After that adventure, Davis made sure to get Baby microchipped and even bought a tracker collar.

“Baby is back at home and the family is happy,” Avila said. “I don’t think they will let Baby out of their sight again. Baby had quite an adventure. He was a trooper. She was one of their character dogs and is a doll.”

“My Baby is staying with me,” Davis said. “I tell my kids to watch Baby and not let him outside.”


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