Man Unable to get Dog Back from Animal Shelter

“Now they are telling me I owe $800 if I want my dog back,” said Vernon. “That’s a lot of money. I don’t have that kind of money at this point in my life right now.”


In Stockton, California, Dexter Vernon’s Husky-Malamute mix was taken from his backyard.  The dog had been found by the Stockton Animal Services, and was seriously injured.  Now, Vernon is being told that he needs to come up with $800 to cover expenses while his dog was being treated and held there.

The dog was taken from his backyard on Easter Sunday.  After this he had called the Stockton Animal Shelter daily, and posted flyers and signs, but couldn’t locate his furry friend.

Later, through a Facebook post on the Northern California Sled Dog Rescue page, Vernon found out his dog was badly hurt, and may have been burned by acid.  Now the rescue group is trying to raise $10,000 for the dog’s treatments and care.

When Vernon tried to call the rescue group directly, no one answered.  He called the city shelter as well, where they told him that he would first have to come up with $800 to cover the treatments given to the dog while in their care.  Otherwise, he will not get the dog back.

“Now they are telling me I owe $800 if I want my dog back,” said Vernon.  “That’s a lot of money.  I don’t have that kind of money at this point in my life right now.”

The shelter is claiming that the fees are for one day of lodging, along with treatments and care given to the dog.  Vernon has said he isn’t even able to get a straight answer as to who has custody of his dog at the moment.

All Vernon says he wants to know is how his dog is, and exactly what he has got to do to get his dog back.

29 thoughts on “Man Unable to get Dog Back from Animal Shelter

  1. I run a rescue and some vets charge us ridiculous fees for some treatments, while others work with us. The $10K is probably for skin grafts and all sorts of antibiotics and surgery. When I did rescue in Kentucky, heartworm treatment, for instance, cost the rescue $250 per dog (entire cost.) Here in Texas, it’s $1200-$1600. Ridiculous considering I know what the actual cost of the drugs are–my vet TOLD me (since we had to treat one dog twice and he gave me the second treatment at cost.) So, this dog is in California. Enough said on the cost!!

  2. So, in other words, he he had found his dog witth these injuries, he would not have provided it with the licensed vet treatment that it neded to get better. He should be thanking the Animal Shelter, the dog could have been through worse at the hands of kidnappers. Instead the dog recieved vet care, medication, shelter and was fed and he has a problem with this? Now he says he wants to know exactly what he has got to do to get his dog back?

  3. I would think that the shelter first and foremost could work with this man and set up some kid of payment plan or allow him to work off part of the debt while working at the shelter.
    I do find it a bit steep at $800. The adoption fees are a little less than what I paid
    Not quite sure what to think about the rescue group, but my knee jerk is not favorable


    1. I bet it’s so easy for you to go get a loan too. A lot of people, especially the ones who don’t have $800 lying around, can’t get approved for a loan. The idea of saving 10% of ones paycheck is ideal, it’s not reality.

      Since you seem to be so confident about getting a loan, why don’t you take one out and pay the fee for this man who simply misses his best friend?

  5. I adopted a dog many years ago 1994 from our local animal shelter – she had been on 3 iv’s for 16 days because the “owners” didn’t bother to feed her. When I got her home still skinny she was scared if you raised your hand in the air to play – thought you were going to hit her and crouched with tail between her legs waiting to get hit. Don’t know the whole story but I don’t leave my dogs outside anywhere with out being there. Too many people willing to hurt an animal for kicks. Till you know the whole story – maybe don’t judge them

    1. You nailed a great point…you don’t leave your pets outside anywhere with out being there. Too many people willing to hurt an animal for kicks. How long was he gone and why weren’t the other dogs taken if there were three of locked away in there. Also how did the person or people get the dog out without being seen by a neighbor or even discovered when the dogs started barking??? Some posted above that maybe he did it?..totally unfounded because he was supposedly away and I hope the police are investigating this.

  6. I had a dog that was my only family. He slowly started to get ill and his regular vet could not diagnose him. I took him to three different specialists and none knew what was wrong with him. They gave him multiple tests and medications. Over eight months his lungs and cardio sac kept filling with fluid and he could no longer breath. They wanted to remove the fluid every other day with a needle, but I would not subject him to all that pain and had him euthanized. The cost for his treatment: $30,000. I met a woman who worked for a vet teaching hospital and she showed me the papers they used to teach students. It said to first estimate the true cost of the treatment and then triple it. Also, concentrate on money first and care last. It is disgusting. This woman said to take your animals out, don’t let them out-it is too dangerous for the animal.

  7. why is it that so many dogs are in shelters that have been abused by heartless individuals and i cant get one to love and car for.i am 82 and really would love to have another dog,but i can’t afford what the shelters charge.they ask more for a mixed breed than what is asked for a pure bred.i have had a westie that developed cancer and no amount of treatment helped and i had to have him put to sleep,then i had a mixed black lab pup.he escaped when he was about a year old and ran out in the edge of the road [i live in the contry and our road is no more than a cow path]he was run over by the mail delivery [doing about 40 on a 10 mile an hour rd]our road is a deadend dirt road with some children that often play in the street.i complained to the postmaster and was told there is a leash law so there was nothing i could do ,also he was delivering the us him licence to kill i guess. i will still love to get another dog to help me to get someone towalk with and get some execise.

    1. Leo G King, try fostering a dog through a rescue group. The rescue groups I have worked with pay for all the dogs vet care and expenses. I am in the military and would love to have 20 dogs but moving every few years is an issue. I have begun fostering and currently have 3 dogs and 6 kittens and I love it!!! People always ask me if its hard giving them up when I get attached to my foster animal and sometimes it is. But knowing that because of my fostering until a suitable adoptive home is found guarantees these animals will not be euthanized makes it easy to give them up to the new owners and move another one out of the shelter and into my care.

      1. Kudos’s to you , not many people consider fostering. I have myself considered it except i already have four dogs all different sizes . Two of them are rescued dogs one was a stray & the other i adopted from the Humane society . I applaud you !

      2. Anonymous. People ask me the same thing about fostering. I specialize in special needs animals. These animals are given up because the owner either doesn’t want to or can’t afford the medication. They would most likely be euthanized if I didn’t foster them and I rather save them, get attached, then see them go to a good home then the alternative.

  8. This shelter must be aligned with Banfield Pet Hospitals. They charge you even when they screw up and then give you the run around if you try to get information. If you’re looking for paperwork, it mysteriously disappears along with surgery records that are “accidentally deleted” by a software glitch. Stay away from Banfield people, save your pets.

    As for this story, while I am a little skeptical that someone stole the dog, especially when malamutes are known to be rather successful escape artists and hate to be away from their people; it could happen. Some people are sick and it looks like this poor pup found one, seriously, who burns a dog with acid? I am glad that the dog was found and they were able to treat him and find a place for him to recover. If the owner is telling the truth though, holding the dog is punitive. Check the condition of the owner’s other dogs (in background of photo) and do follow-up visits and the shelter could possibly reunite this family relatively quickly. I think all involved would understand that due diligence must be done to ensure the safety of the dog but you could at least let the owner visit and make sure the dog is alright. I would be inconsolable if this was one of my furry babies. Maybe the owner could volunteer at the shelter to help out with the cost. Vet care is expensive but if the shelter was dedicated to helping the dog when he didn’t have an owner then nothing should change now that the owner has stepped forward to claim him. In fact, I think they would be grateful that this animal will have the love and care he needs to recover. Most likely, the owner will be seeing more expensive vet bills in the future as follow-up visits will definitely be needed. As for the rescue, saving dogs is wonderful but if the dog has an owner they should return the dog and focus on saving the dogs that have nowhere else to go or who face unnecessary euthanasia in shelters. I wish the dog all the best and hope he recovers quickly wherever he ends up, and whoever did this to him should be burned with acid on the most sensitive parts of their anatomy.

    1. I absolutely love your comment….just spot on! But I don’t know anything about Banfield….I use a small vet for my two dogs but they are registered at two different vets…for a specific reason. Thank you for the information on Banfield..I will definitely stay away.

  9. A similar thing happened to me. My Husky got loose, got picked up by the dog catcher. The same day, I went to pick her up, they wanted $100 fee for a day’s boarding even though she had only been there a couple hours. I didn’t have $100. They said come back when you do. I said by the time I have $100 the fee will be $500 and I won’t have that! They said I couldn’t have my dog. I tried every day to get her back but they wouldn’t let me have her until I paid an ever increasing fee. My kids and I cried for days, then had to watch her being advertised for adoption. We never saw her again. And before anyone spouts off about the cost of owning a pet, I know the cost. I just didn’t have $100 on that day. She went to the vet for shots and check ups, she was well kept. We still think about her.

    1. I am so heartbroken for you…that was just so unfair. I don’t understand why didn’t they just give you the dog back but have you sign a promissory note to pay them the $100 as soon as you got it but put in a stipulation that if you didn’t that they would take legal action against you. Good grief you would think that they would want the dog to be with his loving family….I would have went to the TV stations and the news paper and to every local rescue to help me protest and get my fur baby back. So very sorry you and the family had to go through that.

    2. I had something similar happen with my mainecoon cat when I was in college. The animal catcher caught him on an empty lot adjacent to my house and he was wearing a collar with my info on it and he was microchipped. They didn’t bother calling, I found him by calling around to the local vets and the animal shelter the next day after he didn’t come in for dinner.
      The shelter wanted to charge me over $100 I didn’t have to get him back, it was a racket, ransom for stolen pets. I went to the shelter that afternoon pretending to look at pets for adoption and saw him in a glass observation room. The only person I saw working in the area was a receptionist and I couldn’t see any cameras so I had my girlfriend distract her and I went in and collected my cat they had catnapped. His collar was missing, and he had never lost it in almost a year of wearing it so they had to have taken it off.
      She yelled at me as I walked out and I told her to f off and that I was reclaiming stolen property. She followed us out probably trying to get the plate number I high tailed it out of the parking lot in reverse so they couldn’t see the plate.
      We were moving in 2 weeks so I just kept him at a friends until then so it couldn’t happen again.
      I was expecting the cops to show up since the shelter probably still had the collar but they never did. I was ready to fight someone over that cat, he was my buddy.
      I did end up getting even with the shelter, I live captured a 50lb raccoon that was getting into my trash and deposited it into one of the shelters night time stray pet drop off cells. I bet they had fun with that mean f’er.

      1. Good Lord, that’s the most disgusting, irresponsible thing I’ve read in a long time. What if someone put a puppy in the drop box? Or any other size/age dog? How sadistic of you!

  10. I would just be so happy to have my dog back i would sell my car or whatever I had to to get him back. Though the animal shelter were pricks to hold his dog ranson. that is just evil.

    1. I am with you 1000%! I was in the military and travel a whole lot and accumulated a ton of stuff I will probably never use or have room for. I would have had a major freaking garage sale and notified the TV and newspaper to get a huge outcome then I would have help a bidding auction to get what I needed and donated the other profit a different local rescue or shelter. I would have gotten my dog back…come hell or high water. That’s just me….no way would they want the negative publicity all of my antics would have bought to their doorstep.

  11. Leo King, if you look on for your area I’m sure you can find someone who is in a desperate situation needing to re-home their dog (due to a move, foreclosure, etc) who doesn’t want to bring it to a shelter where it will be put to sleep. Chances are those people will charge only a token fee to make sure you’re sincere. You could be saving a dog, especially if you’re willing to adopt an older dog who would have stood little chance at the pound.

  12. So if a human family member were kidnapped and assaulted, would one not expect to have to pay the hospital/doctor fees incurred to save the person’s life? Hopefully the shelter will accept payments over time, but bottom line is, dog owner needs to shut up, pony up, and be thankful.

    1. Yes, perhaps the owner should be responsible for fair cost of treating his dog. BUT, to use your example, if a human family member were to be kidnapped and injured, then rescued and treated, THE HOSPITAL WOULDN’T HOLD THAT PERSON NOT RETURNING HIM/HER TO THE FAMILY!!! The family would have to pay medical bills, but there wouldn’t be any question of not returning the victim to his family. Good grief!

  13. Why not just adopt the dog? This happened to friend of mine. He could not afford the bill for vet care which was over 1,000 so he sent a friend the dog did not know to adopt the dog. Cost? $35.00. Sneaky, maybe but the dog got to go home to a family that loved him. If you don’t have the money you have to do what you have to.

  14. Waaah Waaah Waah
    If this man had come home and found his dog injured he would have had to take it to the veteranarian and pay for its care! How is this any different?!? – He is still responsible for the bill!
    If you can not afford to care for your pet (including unforseen illnesses and injuries) DO NOT HAVE PETS!
    Spay and neuter people! (And, if you are not planning on spaying/neutering – or can not afford it; DO NOT HAVE PETS!

  15. Our Lilly had a spinal defect detected when she was 9. We had a “specialist” do the surgery, they botched it and we got a dead dog and a bill for $10,000.00.

    1. OMgosh……I am sooo very sorry for your lost. That is a disgrace….what on earth were they thinking?? They had the audacity to want you to pay after they screwed up….I hope you sought legal help. Or at lease exposed them to the world by calling the news?

  16. My little Bichon became ill. When I took him to our regular veterinarian in a nearby town, and was told to take him directly to another veterinarian about 30 miles away, who was better equipped and could more easily help him. Arriving there the doctor made a cursory examination, and he did confirm that the dog, who, at that point could not use his hind legs, but had to scoot himself along the floor, indeed would need help and told me to bring him back a few day’s later for further treatment. However, they required full payment for this first visit, and I was not able to cover that amount.

    I should mention that I have become a victim of financial crime. I am still suffering the consequences, and I ask that my readers will take my word for it. The details behind that story are too many and too complex to describe. Let me shortly say that, as a result, my financial situation was not very good, and I could not produce the required amount. I did call an acquaintance to help me out temporarily, and I was promised to receive the necessary amount to fill up my current account, and my understanding was that I could leave a check with the veterinarian which then should have become valid. Based on this information I paid, made our next appointment and left.

    Next appointment: I showed up with my dog who now had to be carried. I was told to wait. When the secretary came back, I was told that the promised check had not been covered, and that further treatment was denied until I could pay. They refused to see the dog, and I drove home with a very sick, and now also a very suffering little dog. At this point he had a hard time breathing, – and a few nights later he passed away.

    He had choked to death – and that because because of a bounced check!!

    My questions are: 1) What happened to setting priorities?
    2) What happened to sense of duty and responsibility?
    And most of all: 3) What happened to compassion?

  17. Ok I’m William I’m 14 same happened to me but my landlord got mad at us and called the animal shelter and they took are dog my mom had to pay 200$ after 2 weeks well we didn’t have that kind of money to spend it sucks not knowing what happened to are ?

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