VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) – A Washington firefighter returned home from a three-week stretch of battling fires to learn his dog had been adopted by another family.
William Jones of Battle Ground had owned his dog Hunter for about a year. During that time they went on hunts and hikes, and Hunter would even hang out at the fire station. Jones refers to Hunter as his best friend.
Now, though, the two are apart.
“I went out on a fire over in eastern Washington, and when you’re over there you don’t have cell service, so I left my dog, Hunter, with one of my friends here in Vancouver,” Jones said.
When Jones returned home, his friends told him told Hunter had jumped the fence and was missing. Jones then called the Humane Society of Southwest Washington.
“[It] turned out that he was there, but he got adopted,” Jones said. “They told me there was nothing I could do about it, it’s already been legalized.”
Humane Society President Stacey Graham told me Clark County Animal control had found Hunter and brought the dog to the Humane Society, but they weren’t able to identify Jones as the owner.
“It was a heartbreaking ending to something that really could have been prevented,” Graham said. “Hunter had no tags, no microchip and no license.”
The Humane Society says they then followed their protocol: they held Hunter for six days before putting him up for adoption, twice as long as they’re required to by law. Four days later, Hunter was adopted by another family.
Graham said she felt a great deal of sympathy for Jones, but there was legally nothing they could have done differently.
“What a courageous and wonderful thing he’s doing, but we didn’t have any way of knowing that,” Graham said. “We didn’t know where he was. We didn’t even know if the dog had an owner.”
After learning about Hunter’s adopting, Jones wrote on the Humane Society’s Facebook page.
The post and pictures of Hunter have since been shared hundreds of times.
After learning Jones had owned Hunter, the Humane Society reached both to him and to the family who adopted Hunter. They family said they’d already bonded with the dog and were keeping him. As the legal owners of the dog, they are within their rights to do so.
Graham says she feels terrible about what happened, and hopes that other pet owners take it as a warning to always get their pets microchipped.
“Microchipping is the only way that you really have to know for certain that when your dog or your cat is missing that we can find out who the owner is,” Graham said.