Annette Vallieres-Lawson can barely talk about Chewy without choking up. He's her 4-year-old Shih Tzu terrier. He joined the family months before her infant daughter's death. She says she can't bear to lose them both.
"We miss him," Vallieres-Lawson said. "We love him and we want our dog back."
In early July she says someone stole Chewy from her yard in Troy. He did not have a microchip or a collar. The family posted signs around town and neighbors searched back roads, looking for the little guy who loved to tease the family ferret.
"We did everything we possibly could, but within Orleans County. Nobody thought to look outside the county," Vallieres-Lawson said.
As weeks passed, she was less hopeful she'd find Chewy alive. But on Saturday-- good news. Her local animal shelter called to say it found an online listing to adopt Chewy at the North Country Animal League in Morrisville. Animal control had picked him up 30 miles from home in Johnson, held him the required eight days, and then turned him over to the closest shelter as a stray.
"At that point I called there to say can I come get my dog? And that's when I was told no," Vallieres-Lawson said.
"We had the dog since July 20 and it was adopted on July 28th. Literally within two hours of the dog being adopted is when we received the phone call," said Sallie Scott of the North Country Animal League.
Scott says she always tries to reunite pets with their owners. But if they are no longer at North Country, her hands are tied.
"What complicates is if the animal has been adopted because then legally the animal is no longer ours," she explained.
Something Vallieres-Lawson doesn't think is fair, as she's left wondering about Chewy's new owners: "Are they letting him sleep in the bed? Are they giving him the treats he likes?"
In 1999, this shelter was involved in a very similar case. Ultimately the Vt. Supreme Court ruled the shelter followed procedure, protecting the rights of the new owners. And the old owners never got their dog back.
Monday, December 9 2013 10:38 AM EST2013-12-09 15:38:45 GMT
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Monday, December 9 2013 9:37 AM EST2013-12-09 14:37:21 GMT
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Monday, December 9 2013 9:29 AM EST2013-12-09 14:29:05 GMT
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Monday, December 9 2013 8:18 AM EST2013-12-09 13:18:48 GMT
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