'Please give her back': Soldotna man's fight for adopted out support dog
It's been an emotional couple of weeks for a Soldotna man who says he's desperately been searching for his beloved emotional support dog after it got loose and ended up lost. The dog, he calls "Raven," was found, but wasn't returned to her actual home.
"I'm numb. I've cried. I can't even cry anymore," said Raven's former owner, Tom Clucas.
He says Raven was his support dog after he fell seriously ill in 2015.
"I passed out and went into a coma," he said "I woke up in the next year sometime. It was an awful experience. My doctor recommended I get a dog because of the depression and to get me moving."
On April 20, Clucas and his 3-year-old Pug-mix, Raven, accompanied a friend for a trip from Soldotna to Wasilla. On their way back home, they stopped about 45 miles out of Anchorage to use the bathroom.
"She just slipped out of the car," he said. "We did not notice. We should have checked, but we didn't till we got back home."
Clucas put up posters and called the Anchorage Animal Care and Control.
"I ask, 'Have any dogs been dropped off that day?' Clucas said. "There were no dogs. I give her the description."
AACC public relations coordinator Laura Atwood believes there was miscommunication between the two parties.
"Descriptions can really vary," Atwood said. "Breed differences, when you're talking a mixed breed animal what one person may see as a German Shepherd, another sees as an Alaska Husky."
"She said, 'I can't tell you if your dog is in here, you have to do a walkthrough," Clucas said.
However, Clucas couldn't make the trip and didn't have access to the internet to check the AACC website.
After six days, he got an answer.
"'I'm sorry, but your dog has been adopted,'" Clucas said he was told by an employee at AACC. "I said, 'that's not possible.'"
Raven had been there the whole time.
"She has a dog family, she has a human family, she has a community family already," Clucas said. "How can you take that from us? How? That's all I'm saying. Please, please give her back to her family."
Clucas says city representatives spoke with the new owner and that person would not be giving Raven back.
"I feel she legally stole my friend," he said.
However, Atwood says this situation could've been avoided.
"So the first thing we do is look for identification," she said. "Now, the obvious identification would be a collar and tags, but usually if they make it here, they don't have a collar and tags. So then what we're doing is we're scanning for a microchip."
There were no identifiers on Raven and per municipal code, unidentified animals stay at AACC for a minimum of three days -- not including the day dropped off
"I know somebody's taking care of her," Clucas said. "That's a good feeling. All the rest is horrifying."
If raven's new owner doesn't respond, Clucas plans to pursue legal action, but wouldn't give details.
AACC says the numbers are universally good for reuniting pets and their owners: Over 70 percent success rate since the first of the year and 80 Percent in the month of January.
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