September 19, 2014

Elyria
Fog
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Avon family says dog adopted to another family after it ran away

Terri Sandu is shown with Harley, the family dog that Sandu says had run off around Christmas time. She says the dog was found and then adopted out to another family. COURTESY SANDU FAMILY

Terri Sandu is shown with Harley, the family dog that Sandu says had run off around Christmas time. She says the dog was found and then adopted out to another family. COURTESY SANDU FAMILY

AVON — An Avon family has started a petition to get their dog back after they claim Love-A-Stray adopted it out to another family.

Terri Sandu said her family was heartbroken to discover that the dog, Harley, is with another family.

“It just makes it even more painful because it feels like we’ve lost her twice,” she said.

Sandu said Harley escaped from a fenced-in enclosure in their backyard Dec. 19. Harley, who she said was wearing a collar and dog tag, was not found after weeks of searching.

Sandu said she contacted the Lorain County pound Dec. 21 and again Dec. 27, not realizing that the city of Avon Lake had its own kennel. Avon Lake police found a dog matching Harley’s description on Christmas Day, and the dog remained in that city’s kennel until Dec. 30, when it was turned over to Love-A-Stray.

Avon Lake police Sgt. Fran Tibbits said the dog had no collar or tags when found. Typically, police house lost dogs in the kennel for three days, and if the animal isn’t claimed, it is turned over to an agency such as Love-A-Stray.

“We kept the dog for an extra three days after the required time, because it was Christmas time,” he said. “In most cases, the owner calls and retrieves their dog.”

Sandu said she never called police because she believed officers would take the dog to the Lorain County pound if it was found. She said she was starting to lose hope when she noticed a listing for a dog that looked like Harley on Love-A-Stray’s website.

Sandu said she called Love-A-Stray on Jan. 12 and spoke with a worker, who she said refused to let her look at the dog. She said the group’s Facebook page had indicated on Jan. 11 that the dog hadn’t been adopted.

“She basically questioned why we hadn’t been looking for her and that a family had been looking at her,” she said.

She said the worker then told her that she would talk to the other volunteers about the dog, but she never received a call back from Love-A-Stray after repeated calls and emails. Through a post on Love-A-Stray’s website Feb. 3, the family learned that the dog had been adopted, Terri Sandu said.

DanaMarie Pannella, an attorney for Love-A-Stray, said the dog was adopted Jan. 8 — before Terri Sandu’s phone call to Love-A-Stray. She said workers at Love-A-Stray told Sandu this, after extensively working to find the dog’s owner.

A post on Love-A-Stray’s Facebook page indicates that a photo of a Rottweiler rescued on Christmas was shared on the website 247 times Dec. 25. The post asked for information on the dog’s owner.

The same picture was posted again Jan. 10, however, indicating that the dog had not been adopted and that it was going through training.

“Holly, one of the dogs that was on vacation at Paws by the Lake during the cold snap, leaves today and is going to Komplete K9 Training so Agnes can evaluate her with dogs and cats. Holly will also learn some manners. Holly the Rott was abandoned in Avon Lake on Christmas Day!” read the post.

Pannella denied that Love-A-Stray didn’t do enough to find the animal’s owner. She said Love-A-Stray officials read Craigslist and Facebook postings, looked for lost dog fliers and newspaper advertisements in the area, as well as reaching out to local animal welfare organizations via a mass email.

Love-A-Stray’s policy also is to reach out to animal clinics, grooming salons, pet stores and neighboring police departments and animal control officers, she said.

“When Ms. Sandu finally contacted Love-A-Stray after her friend had seen a Rottweiler’s picture on Facebook, it was too late. Love-A-Stray no longer had any legal right to the dog. As a courtesy, Love-A-Stray did discuss the situation with the dog’s new owner, but they were not willing to surrender the dog,” Pannella said in a written statement.

“The dog was legally owned by another family and they were unwilling to part with their new rescue pet. Love-A-Stray has strict screening standards for adopters and feels confident that the dog was placed in a loving, safe home.”

Sandu said she believes that there needs to be better communication between the city and the county pound. A letter from the Sandus’ attorney to Avon Lake Law Director Abraham Lieberman said the Lorain County Dog Kennel’s website indicates that the facility houses stray and unwanted dogs from the county.

“Nowhere on the site does it instruct dog owners of a responsibility or encouragement to also call their local police,” read the letter from attorney Bryan Mollohan.

Lieberman, who said he has heard conflicting stories from the Sandus and Love-A-Stray on the issue, said the city followed proper procedures.

“Basically, the city doesn’t send the animals that they find to the county dog pound, so they had no reason to contact the pound,” he said. “The procedures were properly followed; unfortunately, the Sandus didn’t contact the city.”

Mollohan also criticized Love-A-Stray for not allowing the Sandus to see the dog to determine if it was Harley.

“While it is clear that the Love-A-Stray organization performs a valuable and important service in the community, it is also clear that their refusal to allow the family to see the dog upon receiving notice that the dog may in fact have a loving family seems to be clearly contrary to their purpose and intentions for the City of Avon Lake in partnering with them to help lost and abandoned dogs,” he wrote to Lieberman.

After being told that the dog’s ownership was legally transferred to Love-A-Stray by the police department, Sandu is hoping to reach the new owner of Harley and convince him or her to return the dog.

“We really think the way to appeal to people right now is through their hearts,” she said. “My kids and I are devastated.”

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.


  • Jamie Smith

    I Pray the new owner has a heart and returns their beloved Pet. It is a very sad story.

    • got2bjennyg

      This beloved pet lived in a wooden box in a shed next to the tractor (see the video footage on 19 action news). It was left unattended, escaped, picked up by Avon Lake PD not wearing any license or tags, held for three days as required by law and then adopted out to Love-a-stray by the city.

      • sweet_sue_ohio1

        If that is the case. Then I say let the new family keep him.

      • FoodForThought63

        I watched the video on 19 news and there is no wooden box-it looks like a fairly good size fenced in area in the yard. I’m not saying that is ideal to keep out in with these frigid temps, but I don’t know where the wooden box pictures are coming from.

  • stillsleepyeyes

    Ok, if one so loves there pet so, a micro chip would of saved all this from happening……………………

    • Arietta Sullivan

      not everyone can afford a micro chip and with this fact,it doesn’t mean an animal lover/owner,that can’t afford one,doesn’t love their pet any stronger/less then a person that can afford a chip.

      • Julie O’Brien

        Microchips are not that expensive – if you can’t afford the chip, maybe you shouldn’t have the dog. Our vet did ours for only about $25.

        • Arietta Sullivan

          oh ok..i didn’t think they were that cheap.out of choice if one chooses to buy one for their dog.my point was that love comes from all animal owners with or without that choice of spending money.personally,i don’t own a dog.i haven’t own one since 1989.i have inside cats,that’s always a priority on our minds when the doors are opening&closing,from the outside is ‘no matter what the cat tells you,don’t let her out’ :)

      • MacysMama

        Check with Pet Supply Plus out by Midway Mall. According to an email I received from them, they offer Microchipping @ that facility on certain days for $10 for lifetime. The info said Sat. mornings from 9:30-11:00.

        • Arietta Sullivan

          thank you but i don’t need the information since i don’t own a outside animal.i have inside cats that are easier to keep from running away outside but awesome price for anybody interested in them,i’ll keep it in mind,if an animal owner asks me.

    • Michael

      I love my kids. Should I put a dogtag or chip in them too?

      • stillsleepyeyes

        No silly…………….finger prints and pictures should be updated every year for children and your local police do this for FREE…………….

  • Arietta Sullivan

    it seems to be a big misunderstanding.i hope the new owners gives back the dog to the old owners.i agree,it should be more public information given that,at times,the local police department maybe able to hold the dog for a few days etc etc and not everybody has a facebook page&depends on it,to be the ONLY place for resource.

    • got2bjennyg

      The fail was not on the part of the PD- they followed the law and then some- the dog was held a few days beyond the legal requirement of three days.

      Dog owners are required by law to not have their dogs roaming at large. Whether intentional or not, the owners are responsible to supervise and contain their dog. They are also required by law to keep a license on the dog at all times. Again, intentions are not covered by the law when it comes to a license on your dog. A responsible pet owner will put a sturdy (not an adjustable collar held together with a plastic snappy thing), well-fitting (cannot slip over dog’s head) collar with a license on their pet. Again, the Sandu family FAILED.

      • Arietta Sullivan

        true with all you said but what i was just trying to say is there was just a lack of communication because of the lack of information that is out here in today’s world&it lead to lack of understanding,that there is/was more resources,out here,that could have helped before it got this deep.she claims she had no knowledge of Avon Lake police dept having a kennel.is she lying..i have no idea. it was no one’s fault.it just happened.situations like this never hurts for EVERYBODY to come together and update information&get it out to people somehow. i can’t say who was/is right or wrong&who’s at fault when i only have a ‘story’ in front of me,only words,i wasn’t part of the situation&have facts to blame anybody in particular.

        • got2bjennyg

          It’s unfortunate that this person wasn’t able to educate herself about where a lost dog might be. She does have a college degree, and is obviously adept at using the internet, social media , and the news media to spread her message. Had that been done sooner (say within the first week the dog ran away), she may have found her dog before it was impounded and the redemption period was over. Once that stray hold period was over at the Avon Lake animal warden’s facility, the dog was no longer legally owned by the Sandu’s.

          The truth is that sometimes we make choices, even by omission, and then are stuck with the consequences. Sometimes, you still get a “free pass”. Sometimes you don’t. On the upside, the dog is being cared for, safe, sound, alive and well.

          • Arietta Sullivan

            very true.it was her lesson in it.sad but true.i’m happy to hear the dog is doing great :) have a wonderful day :)

  • michelle

    Not enough time has even passed for the new family to have deeply bonded with this dog. Please return it to the original owners.

  • got2bjennyg

    A stray dog without a license (as this dog was when picked up by Avon Lake PD) is held for 3 days (by law). After the 3 days stray hold, the dog can be euthanized, transferred to an animal research facility or adopted out. After being held for 5 days, this dog was adopted out to Love-a-stray.

    A person or a rescue group that steps forward to adopt a stray once the stray hold is up, should NOT be harassed or badgered into giving the dog that they 100% legally own to anyone. Why?? Because it sends a very detrimental message.

    That message is:
    Do not adopt or rescue that dog and think for one second that it’s really yours. The previous owners should be able to step forward and you should give them the dog. Yes, the dog was past it’s legal stray hold period and was legally adopted from the local animal control or dog shelter, but that doesn’t matter. If you decide to keep the dog that you legally adopted, the previous owners will hunt you down, and harass you. They will wage a public campaign against your decision to keep the dog that is legally yours.

    Trust me, if this is the message sent out to the public, many many more shelter animals will die. It will deter people from adopting and rescuing.

  • whobeboo

    If the dog was licensed, or as I like t say, a legal beagle, than he should be returned.

    • golfingirl

      The dog was an “illegal” alien. No documents and should have been deported.
      Oooops…..wrong story. Sorry

    • got2bjennyg

      When the dog was picked up by the Avon Lake PD, roaming at large, 5 or 6 days after it ran away, it was NOT wearing a l license or any tags at all.

  • golfingirl

    I have a solution.

    Bring both families into a room. One family on one side, the other family on the other side of the room.

    Enter the dog.

    Whoever he goes to, gets to keep him.

    Let the dog decide. Sometimes animals make better decisions than humans.

  • johns62

    If the dog had been adopted on Jan 8, why was it listed on Jan 12? and seems just becaue a post is shared 200x are all basically in house shares ( among its own volunteers), Honestly there are so many of posts that are re-sent time and time that people tune out

  • rlm_Lorain

    I don’t live in Avon Lake, and even I know they have their own kennel. Did none of your friends, neighbors, or relatives know this either? As far as licensing goes, it should be easy enough to verify through city records. If this dog was legally licensed and I was the new owner, I myself would surrender the dog back to its original owner. If it was not legally licensed, that would tell me all I needed to know and I would keep the animal. However, under NO circumstances should the identity of the new owner be revealed. They did something very noble by adopting a rescue and do not deserve to be harassed under the guise of “talking them into giving him back.”

    • Arietta Sullivan

      you’re right,i never thought about a lot of what you just said..if the dog had no tags and wasn’t registered then it may have made me think twice.

    • johns62

      does AL have its own dog license?

  • Pat Repka

    A stray dog without a license (reportedly the case with this dog when received
    by Avon Lake PD)
    is held for 3 days for the purpose of redemption as per ORC 955.16. After the 3
    day hold, the dog may be available to Adopt, Rescue, Sold for Research, or PTD
    (euthanized).

    To harass Love-A-Stray for rescuing (or suggest the new family must relinquish
    custody) of her is asinine, sends the wrong message that could have lasting
    affects for other Ohio strays at a time when our Shelters are overflowing.

    While it’s unfortunate that this family no longer has
    their pet, at least they have closure knowing that she’s in a carefully
    screened home. Her fate could have been much worse…

  • Zen Grouch

    It sounds like the first owner did the bare minimum when it came to tracking down the dog.

    She claims to have “contacted” the pound twice.

    When I’ve lost pets in the past, I didn’t “contact” the local pound, I went down there and looked at every animal in the place.

    A responsible person wouldn’t have waited 2 days before “contacting” the pound anyway, unless it wasn’t unusual for the dog to take off for days at a time.

    Then there’s the issue of the license. I would think a huge dog like that would have a heavy duty collar to hold his license.

    Or maybe they leave the collar off, just in case the dog mauls other animals or people when he’s out for his multi-day jaunts. Then they might be all, “I never saw that animal before in my life!”

    Tell me that animal isn’t getting hungry and eating cats when it’s been wandering around for days at a time.

    **people should be licensed too**

  • Danielle

    I had the same thing happen. I found my dog on rescue me.oorg I contacted the humane society he was at and told them I could prove he was mine. I didn’t have papers nor a chip. But I do have pictures and DNA from his mother. I don’t have the money to take them to court. Because the person who turned him in gave a false name the sheriff said I have no case.