For some reason, a story about a dog from the Netherlands who somehow turned up as an emaciated stray in Houston, and who will now be reunited with a woman who gave up the dog in the first place, is making headlines as a heartwarmer. We believe otherwise. For one thing, it's not her freaking dog.
Reporters have covered the story credulously -- the Chron went so far as to say the dog actually understands Dutch and Skypes with her previous owner in the Netherlands. The dog -- a black shepherd mix named Amy -- is with a foster outside Waco, and her previous owner is flying to Houston to reclaim her December 17.
That woman, 18-year-old Linda Pool, told reporters that she got Amy from a breeder in 2011 but returned her to the breeder a year ago for reasons she's never disclosed. But, depending on what reports you read, Pool claimed the breeder promised to keep Amy until Pool found a suitable home, or at least had a chance to say good-bye. According to Pool, the breeder broke her promise and sold Amy without notifying Pool.
When we reached Pool via Facebook, she refused to tell us the breeder's name or why she returned Amy.
When we asked Pool for the breeder's name, she told us, "Our priority is Amy right now." And we believe her -- Amy is a priority right now. She wasn't a priority a year ago, when Pool gave her up. Who knows if she'll be a priority a year from now?
The dog was found in October by Adrien Alonso, a college student. He told us he was driving back from class and was near George Bush Park, west of Houston, when he saw Amy run across the road. She had no tags and was starving. Alonso said he gave her some apples he had on him, and she practically inhaled them. (Regardless of our feelings about this story, we have to point out that Alonso, a deeply religious and exceedingly polite dude, went above and beyond the call of duty to rescue Amy. He deserves a round of applause.)
Alonso took Amy to a Banfield vet clinic in a nearby PetSmart, where she was scanned for a microchip. That gave Alonso an ID number for a Dutch company called NDG, which listed Pool as Amy's owner and listed Amy as missing. Alonso contacted the company, which put him in contact with Pool, who immediately set out to raise thousands of dollars so she could fly to Houston to reclaim a dog she had abandoned.
But NDG representative Camilo Payan Witteveen told us that Pool "doesn't have the right to take the dog to the [Netherlands], since she is not the owner." Moreover, NDG has tried to find Amy's owner, but Pool has not cooperated.
Here's how Witteveen explained it to us (the English isn't perfect in some places, but the message is clear):
Linda Pool bought a dog from a breeder. But after a short period Lin[d]a brought the dog back to the breeder. She said she couldn't take care of the dog. She gave the dog back to the breeder, under the condition that the breeder wouldn't sell the dog asap, so she could consider her decision. But the breeder sold the dog, as soon as he found another buyer for the dog.
In the Netherlands it is obligatory that dogs born after april first 2013 are chipped within 7 weeks and the chipregistration in 8 weeks. The first registration is obligatory for the breeder. So that is always traceble who the breeder is. Sometimes breeders forget to, or purposely, registrate a dog. In this case the breeder hasn't registrated the dog first. Linda Pool did, directly after she bought the dog.
After she found out that the dog was already sold, she reported in our database that the dog was missing. That was possible due to the fact her data was still registrated. Only the person who is registrated as the person who keeps the dog can apply changes or report a missing.
Since she has brought the dog back to the breeder, she has lost the ownership of the dog. So to answer your question, if she is the owner: Linda Pool is not the owner.
We've tried to tell her that a registration at our database is not the juridical evidence of ownership. A contract or a payment agreement is. Because her data was still registrated at our data base, Adrien Alanso got her information. It is possible to get some data from our "owner tracker". Now she thinks she can take the dog back to the Netherlangs, eventhough she is not the rightfull owner. Someone in the USA lost his/her dog, but can not trace it because the person didn't registrated the chipnumber.
For some reason, Pool and the woman fostering Amy believe that Pool is the rightful owner. Yet here's what we know about Pool as a pet owner: She acquired a dog from a breeder, then when it wasn't convenient, she gave the dog back. The dog then went to another owner, who through either an honest mistake or neglect allowed Amy to run away.
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So it seems that, so far, two owners have failed Amy, and we don't see why either of them should be trusted with the dog again. Call us silly, but we like to see dogs adopted by responsible owners who don't turn around and surrender them.....and then try to get them back.
Amy is currently being fostered by Miriam Brueggeman, who told us that she didn't know the name of the breeder either. But she has no problem returning Amy to Pool, who has withheld every bit of crucial information.
Is there really a breeder? Is there an owner in Houston desperately trying to find Amy? Would it be unreasonable to hand Amy over to a rescue who can interview and vet a suitable adopter?
Are people more concerned with manufacturing a feel-good -- and completely fishy -- story, rather than caring about what's best for Amy?