Sargent: Rescue Refuses to Return Iraqi War Vet’s Dog

Sometimes the interests of rescue organizations are at odds with the interests of dog owners.

Sargent: Rescue Refuses to Return Iraqi War Vet’s Dog.

Carlos and his wife had just moved into their first home and they were pregnant with their first child. This should have been a time of happiness and anticipation, a time to enjoy their last weeks as a couple without kids. Sadly, that’s not what happened.

Carlos’s dog was at their relatives so their four-acre yard could be fenced so it could be enjoyed by their dog. Sargent, a German Shepherd Dog, lives in the house but went outside in the yard, too.

Carlos had received Sargent as a puppy when he returned from multiple tours of combat duty in Iraq. He named his puppy Sargent, his rank in the army. Sargent helped Carlos deal with the stresses of serving our country and was his constant companion.

Sargent was discovered missing while he was staying with relatives but there were no signs of him getting out—no gate opened, no digging, no fence in disrepair. It was believed that he might have been stolen. Sargent had a collar with his Rabies tag on it when he went missing.

When Carlos found out Sargent was missing, he immediately left work and started searching for his dog with his entire family. They had numerous lost dog signs printed and posted them wide and far. They networked with the shelters in the county where they lived—went there looking, called and provided flyers with Sargent’s photo—to no avail. They also scoured the Internet looking.

Unbeknownst to Carlos, Sargent ended up over 25 miles from where he started and into another county. He was on the loose around 5 weeks before he was taken in by animal control where he stayed for another 3 weeks. Sargent was turned in with his collar on but his tag was missing, the tag ring still on the collar. Carlos had been continually searching at all the shelters in his county but had no idea his dog had ended up so many miles away and in another county.

Sargent was transferred to Greater Houston German Shepherd Dog Rescue and was eventually posted on their website. Carlos never gave up looking for Sargent and that is why he saw his dog on their website.

Carlos and his wife contacted the rescue to get Sargent back to no avail despite producing records and photos that matched. A rescue volunteer suggested that they go to Petco at an adoption event to get their dog back. They did.

Carlos tried to get his dog back at the adoption event as suggested by the rescue’s volunteer but the rescue refused to return his dog despite being provided veterinary records showing that Sargent was fully vaccinated, had a current Rabies shot, was heartworm negative and negative for other parasites. They also took photos proving this was their dog which was not in issue. The rescue flatly refused to return the dog regardless that Carlos offered all expenses and an adoption fee. In fact, he applied to “adopt” his own dog back but the rescue refused.

Carlos even explained that he was an Iraqi war vet and Sargent had been given to him as a puppy to help with the stress of multiple tours of combat duty. The rescue would not budge.

Carlos’s wife was then 8 months pregnant and was sobbing, but the rescue would not budge. The rescue told Carlos that he failed to produce puppy records so he could not get his dog back.

After the adoption event, the rescue’s website changed and indicated that there was an “Adoption Pending” for Sargent. The president of the rescue posted the following on Facebook in a public post about Sargent:

“His original owners showed up at Petco today, let me tell you about a nightmare I had to deal with. A dog who was in animal control for 4 weeks* and was saved by us. They had excuses for everything and no proof they are good owners.** I thank god I have ____ and ___backing me up on this one!

*Animal control actually had the dog for 3 weeks and the dog had ended up in another county 28 miles from where he started.
**Vet records were produced showing the dog was fully vaccinated, heartworm negative and negative for other parasites.

A reply to the president’s post by a volunteer of the rescue was as follows:

“Wow Austin—sorry I missed this one—I love a good standoff; especially with irresponsible former owners. So glad __ and __ were there to help you out. YAY team!”

This Facebook post was deleted and Sargent disappeared off the rescue’s website. Additionally, the rescue went private on Facebook for only approved people after receiving many posts about Sargent.

All attempts to get Sargent back failed. Suit was filed and the dog was returned to his rightful owner. This case concluded recently without a trial.

It was contended by the rescue that Sargent had heartworms but the owner had veterinary records showing Sargent tested negative. He was receiving heartworm preventative but the dog had been missing for around 5 weeks before he ended up in animal control.

This case (along with Monte’s case) illustrates how some rescue organizations and owners find themselves at odds. Unfortunately, it is usually the animals who pay the price for that. All of the time, energy and money expended in these cases could be better used saving more animals.