The Saga of Chloe the Yorkie, Suddenly Lost and Quickly Adopted

The Saga of Chloe the Yorkie, Suddenly Lost and Quickly Adopted title=
Chloe suffered a broken leg the night she disappeared from her own backyard. | Credit: Courtesy
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This story was originally published by the Santa Barbara Independent and is reproduced here in partnership with Edhat.


By Tyler Hayden of The Independent

Two women are suing the County of Santa Barbara for the return of their 4-year-old Yorkshire terrier after the dog went missing one night last summer, was picked up by Animal Services the next day, and within a week adopted out to new owners who have refused to give her back.

On August 2, 2020, at around 11:40 p.m., according to court documents, Johanna Sanchez and Diana Mosquera were sitting in the fenced backyard of their Montecito home when Chloe, who was not wearing a collar at the time and had not been microchipped, ran toward a noise at the edge of the property. There was a commotion, and Sanchez and Mosquera heard Chloe yowl, after which they couldn’t find her in their yard or their neighbors’. They thought perhaps a coyote or mountain lion had taken her. They called the Fire Department and 9-1-1, which both declined to offer any assistance, the lawsuit claims.

Over the following days, Sanchez and Mosquera searched the neighborhood high and low, knocking on doors, hanging flyers, and posting on social media. They did not, however, contact the county’s Animal Services. If they had, they would have discovered Chloe was scooped up the morning after she went missing near the Hilton Resort and placed in a county shelter, where she was treated for a badly broken leg.

By the time Sanchez and Mosquera discovered Chloe’s whereabouts on August 9, a week after she disappeared, four business days had passed and, per county protocols, she’d been put up for adoption and claimed by new owners. Animal Services asked the new owners if they’d be willing to return Chloe to Sanchez and Mosquera, who’d raised the American Canine Association–accredited terrier as a puppy, but they declined.

In their lawsuit, the pair alleges the county’s adopting out of Chloe amounts to an illegal taking of private property. No notices were given and no hearings were held, they said, which are both required when the government impounds and potentially euthanizes a dangerous dog.

Why, they ask, are those obligations not extended to reuniting animals with their rightful owners in exceptional circumstances such as these? Can’t there be a little bit of leeway? Sanchez and Mosquera also accuse the county of the “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

In its rebuttals, the county argues Animal Services and its employees were simply following local regulations as they relate to stray dogs with no collar or tags. Without any way to identify Chloe’s owners when she was found, County Counsel said, staff did the lawful thing by treating her injuries and holding her for the prescribed number of days before putting her up for adoption.

As for the accusation of emotional distress, the bar to prove such an allegation is exceptionally high, the county noted. According to current case law, Sanchez and Mosquera would need to prove Animal Services acted in such an extreme manner as to “exceed all bounds of that usually tolerated in a civilized community.”

The case is currently in a procedural stage, and is being heard by Judge Colleen Sterne. The next hearing is scheduled for August 30.

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sfgac055 May 13, 2021 12:45 PM
The Saga of Chloe the Yorkie, Suddenly Lost and Quickly Adopted

Yikes ... the folks who adopted the dog should have given the dog back when this first started in August ... Now, it's even more complicated with almost a year having passed. I still think the dog should be returned to the original owners, and let this be a lesson to other dog owners to always check with Animal Services right away.

sacjon May 13, 2021 01:01 PM
The Saga of Chloe the Yorkie, Suddenly Lost and Quickly Adopted

Interesting lawsuit! The new "owners" should be ashamed of themselves, but not sure the county did anything wrong. I'd actually sue the new owners for intentional infliction of emotional distress for refusing to return the dog. Still not really viable, but a better chance then against the county. There should be though, some rule where if the original owners subsequently come forward after adoption to new owners (within a time frame) they should be given their pet back. 7 days, as here, should be well within that time frame. Shame on the adopting people for not returning someone's pet. Inexcusable.

PitMix May 13, 2021 01:37 PM
The Saga of Chloe the Yorkie, Suddenly Lost and Quickly Adopted

It's not that unusual for people not to think of Animal Control the first thing. I knew people that had their shepherd escape and they looked all over. When I heard the story, I asked them if they had checked their LA Shelter, and they had not. And there it was, waiting for them.

If they were really treating that dog for a "badly broken leg", they gave it to the new owners while it was still being treated, probably since the new owners agreed to pay for the treatment and get the County off of the hook for that. In any case, clearly the owners of this expensive dog wanted her back, so for them to give it away so quickly was a bad move on the County's part.

They lived in Montecito, so how did this little dog get to the Hilton in SB with a badly broken leg? There is more to this story, or the story is wrong.

Seabird May 13, 2021 02:04 PM
The Saga of Chloe the Yorkie, Suddenly Lost and Quickly Adopted

Really, really crappy of the new "owners" to not give the dog back. They had only had her for a couple of days. Selfish and heartless, particularly because there are hundreds of other animals that need adoption who do NOT have owners that actively want them. Bad karma.

PitMix May 13, 2021 04:02 PM
The Saga of Chloe the Yorkie, Suddenly Lost and Quickly Adopted

One of the ways that Animal Services gets evaluated is the average number of days that strays stay in the shelter before they are adopted or transferred to a rescue. So having a Yorkie stay in just a few days before being adopted makes the average look a little better for AS.

SBTownie May 13, 2021 05:28 PM
The Saga of Chloe the Yorkie, Suddenly Lost and Quickly Adopted

I agree. Unless there is actually more to this story, the new "owners" are behaving in a cruel manor and should have returned the dog to begin with. That said, it is never too late to do the right thing. I don't necessarily fault the county for trying to get the dog adopted quickly.

Minibeast May 13, 2021 06:01 PM
The Saga of Chloe the Yorkie, Suddenly Lost and Quickly Adopted

We've owned at least 10 dogs over the years, every single one of them a "rescue" dog. ------------ Why anyone would have a beloved companion animal (parrot, dog, cat, rabbit, tortoise, etc) and NOT have it microchipped is confounding. Chipping is a precaution of the first order.-------- Hopefully you never know the heartache of losing a pet. But, if and when your pet goes missing, you *always* check the local shelters. ALWAYS. You go there in person, as many times as it takes. Sure, you put up posters, you leave flyers on neighbors' doorsteps. You advertise on Craigslist and on Facebook and NextDoor and so on. But you DO NOT omit alerting County Animal Control and The Humane Society (even though HS is owner turn in only). You do everything you can to find your pet.-------When a dog is rescued/adopted, it doesn't take long to feel a strong bond with the dog. Also: I state this as a long-time dog owner and someone who for many years had a 4.5 lb dog: You NEVER allow a tiny dog to go wandering around outside at night or even in the daytime. I don't care how high your fence is or how close by you are. You're just asking for trouble. A tiny dog can be snatched up in the blink of an eye. -------------That little Yorkie belongs where she is now---with people who loved her enough to rescue her and who, I am willing to bet, dressed her up in a collar w/ an i.d. tag and got her chipped first thing.

a-1620965352 May 13, 2021 09:09 PM
The Saga of Chloe the Yorkie, Suddenly Lost and Quickly Adopted

I’m curious to know more. I’m starting to think the new owners might be the best place for the dog. Why disrupt the little guy again? If the new owners are good, maybe first owners should accept things as they are and move on. Maybe.

ELIZABETHW May 14, 2021 07:58 AM
The Saga of Chloe the Yorkie, Suddenly Lost and Quickly Adopted

The dog had gone missing before. No one saw any signs posted. The person who found the dog posted signs around town and notices on Facebook and Nextdoor. The original owner stated that the reason the dog was found far from home was because it was picked up by a hawk. Etc.

a-1620969743 May 13, 2021 10:22 PM
The Saga of Chloe the Yorkie, Suddenly Lost and Quickly Adopted

It probably went something like this : Animal services has been known to get dogs out fast to clear their rolls, no matter where they go. Since the county’s veterinarian is in Santa Maria, this dog would have been sent up there immediately for treatment and put in foster care for recovery, not adopted. By the time the original owners contacted the shelter, someone had decided they didn’t deserve the dog back and came up with the story about the dog already being adopted. This has happened before. All our pets should be microchipped, that is the ticket home. And yes the shelter should have been contacted immediately by the original owners. But I wouldn’t put it past SB County Animal Services to have lied about the situation because someone “ thought” it was in the best interest of the animal.

Babycakes May 14, 2021 10:03 AM
The Saga of Chloe the Yorkie, Suddenly Lost and Quickly Adopted

I agree that the new owners should return the dog, however, they are now the new legal owners and have no obligation to return the pooch. No collar and No microchip = irresponsible dog owners who probably are more embarrassed than anything that they neglected to do the basic minimum to ensure the safe return of the new owner's dog....which used to belong to them. My guess is that the dog is much happier with the new owners than the one's who did not protect it to begin with. Kind of like a finder's keeper's situation, and a win/win for the dog and new owners.

dukemunson May 14, 2021 10:12 AM
The Saga of Chloe the Yorkie, Suddenly Lost and Quickly Adopted

Just a horrible HORRIBLE analogy baby cakes (win-win)! If they can prove the dog was theirs and they made a real effort to find it... then keeping the dog is morally reprehensible (and by extension your position as well).

Seriously... because it wasn’t microchipped it’s “finders keepers”??!

Babycakes May 14, 2021 02:39 PM
The Saga of Chloe the Yorkie, Suddenly Lost and Quickly Adopted

DukeMunson: Possibly a bad analogy, but the legal owners have a dog that some irresponsible owners failed to retain:
No chip = irresponsible
No collar = irresponsible
No dog tag w/contact info = irresponsible
No gated/fenced yard = irresponsible
I would recommend the new dog owners return the dog, but the legal/eagle side of me say, "Well, you don't h-a-v-e to return the dog." The new owners are definitely planning to keep the dog, and rightfully so in the "eyes of the court." The folks who failed to keep their little pooch safe and sound probably shouldn't own a pet to begin with, and hopefully have learned a good lesson (in my opinion any way).

dukemunson May 14, 2021 02:56 PM
The Saga of Chloe the Yorkie, Suddenly Lost and Quickly Adopted

Babycakes - The article says "sitting in their fenced backyard". Mistakes/Accidents happen. The new owners had the dog for 3 days when they were told the original owners had contacted, which was a grand total of 1 week from when the dog was lost (during which time they made a seemingly concerted effort to find the dog). The "legal/eagle side of you" is right...but like getting away with a crime in which you are obviously because of a technicality is not something to celebrate.

This is akin to stealing, but it being legal based on a technicality and is just morally wrong by the adoptive owners. Had a year or two passed or even say 6 months...OK...but they had the dog for 3 days in which the owners tried hard to find it. Ridiculous and reprehenisble.

Babycakes May 14, 2021 04:13 PM
The Saga of Chloe the Yorkie, Suddenly Lost and Quickly Adopted

DukeMunson: Agree with you, but....are the new owners going to give the dog back? No. Is there any chance that the previous owners are going to get their dog back via the courts? No. What is the name of the classical Japanese dance-drama that has been performed since the 14th century? Nō.

Channelfog May 14, 2021 10:37 AM
The Saga of Chloe the Yorkie, Suddenly Lost and Quickly Adopted

Agreed about microchipping our pets. It is law in many places (Uruguay) as it facilitates location of errant owners of vicious dogs. "Though it is at my feet wagging tail, it is not my dog that bit that child." "The chip says it IS yours!" Chipped dogs protect the dogs and society at large, we can argue about which matters most!
There are dogs everywhere here, no dog catchers unless called. Driving through town on a lazy afternoon with many dogs laying about is quite heart warming.

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