RSPCA mix-up hounds owners!
ALL Steve Richards wanted for Christmas was a kiss on the cheek from his beloved kelpie cross, Buckley.
Instead the 47-year-old sales representative spent the holiday grieving over a series of misunderstandings that may mean he never sees Buckley again.
In the 18 months they were together, Steve and Buckley became the closest of mates. The dog had the run of Steve's 86ha property in King Valley, 40km south of Wangaratta, but now she is confined to a house as the companion of an elderly man.
The saga began on December 13, when Buckley was seized by a dog catcher outside the Richards' property. She had been playing with the neighbours' children before they caught the bus to school.
Nobody saw the dog catcher take Buckley away. So for an agonising week Steve, his wife Donna, 45, and their neighbours, scoured the district, fearing she had been bitten by a snake.
Then, a week after she disappeared, an advertisement from the RSPCA appeared in the Wangaratta Chronicle, seeking a new home for a kelpie-shorthaired retriever cross.
A neighbour who noticed the ad phoned the RSPCA and left an urgent message on the recorder, but nothing was heard over the following weekend.
When Steve phoned on Monday morning an RSPCA employee said she had just found a home for Buckley, with an elderly man.
The employee said she had not had time to check the weekend's recorded messages.
Steve and Donna asked the RSPCA to put them in touch with the new "owner".
But because of legally binding confidentiality clauses, the RSPCA was unable to do so.
"So we asked them to pass on a message to the elderly gentleman," Donna told the Sunday Herald Sun.
"We said we would reimburse him the money he paid the RSPCA, plus buy him any breed of dog he wanted, and deliver it to him if we could just have Buckley back."
But the RSPCA em ployee rang back to say she had contacted the elderly man's family to pass on the offer, but they had refused and become abusive.
"I really can't understand their attitude," Donna said.
"The gentleman has had Buckley for about four days, so it's not as if he could have become attached to her."
Donna said Steve had acquired Buckley 18 months ago from a workmate.
"He called her Buckley because he didn't think I would allow him to keep her -- she had Buckley's chance.
"The second reason is we are both big Collingwood fans. So we named her after Nathan."
Ray Lord, media spokesman for the RSPCA in Melbourne, said: "We are well aware of the situation, and must emphasise that the Wangaratta shelter has acted totally in accord with the rules of practice.
"Buckley had no micro-chip or registration, so we were unable to trace her owners.
"Despite all this, we will do what we can next week."
In the doghouse: Buckley has found herself the centre of an ownership dispute.
NB: This dog is still with the new owner........it may now go to court, and many readers of the local paper have so far funded this to the tune of up to AUD10,000!
Jan 27, '03
Wow,poor doggie.I love dogs and I'll go nuts if I find my FOXXY TERRIER gone missing.Buckley deserve a good owner.
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Last edit by Rohb on Jan 27, '03