Recently, a South Carolina seizure-alert dog was euthanized at the Beaufort County Animal Control and Shelter just minutes before the owner called in. She had been picked up around the corner from her own home on the day she got out by animal control responding to a call about a loose dog. Apache wore a collar and a rabies tag that expired in February. When animal control contacted Apache’s veterinarian’s office, her records did not show up in the computer because her information had been moved to an inactive file, said Dr. Ben Parker of Coastal Veterinary Clinic in Bluffton.
“We had not seen the dog since 2006,” Parker said.
Per the owner, Apache also had a microchip, but the shelter scanned her twice and found no chip.
Apache, an 11-year-old Australian shepherd seizure-alert dog, knew the command “Go home.”
What she didn’t know was how to get there after being picked up as a lost dog May 14 and kept in a shelter for six days. Apache was euthanized May 20, minutes before her owner called in search of her.
Little did the family know that was twice as long as most dogs get because the county’s shelter usually keeps dogs older than 5 for just three days — a policy based on space and animal populations.
“Our normal holding period is three days,” said Toni Lytton, director of Beaufort County Animal Control and Shelter. “No one came looking for the dog until the sixth day. Our criteria is we don’t keep anything (older than) five years … because most animals over five don’t adjust well to a new home.”
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This dog did not need to die. She was a working service dog. But she had no service dog tag, outdated Rabies tag and an undetected microchip.
Bottom line: make sure your pet has a collar with up-to-date information. Write your phone number on the collar with a Sharpie or add a tag with your contact info. If your dog is microchipped, make sure you change your info if you move.
If your pet gets lost: