Two Edgewater women have sued the Anne Arundel County animal shelter for killing their dog even though they reported it missing the day it disappeared and repeatedly called the shelter to see if it had turned up.
The suit, filed Monday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, charges that shelter employees were "uncooperative, uncaring, unfriendly and hostile" when the women tried to find Hobo, their black and brown mixed German shepherd, and seeks $56,000 in damages.
But Tahira Williams, shelter administrator, said yesterday that the women never filed a report of their lost dog and that even if they had, the dog had no license, making it difficult to contact the owners if the dog did turn up.
In the suit, Peggy Walko and Kelly Gordon, of the 1600 block of Hilltop Road, say Hobo, a dog that "provided joy, satisfaction, pleasure, society, companionship and comfort" to the women, escaped Dec. 18, 1992, by digging a hole under a fence in their yard.
They called the shelter that day to report the dog missing, and Ms. Gordon went to the shelter on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard in Glen Burnie to see if it had turned up, according to the suit.
Both Ms. Walko, an amputee who uses a wheelchair, and Ms. Gordon, along with other family members, bought newspaper ads to find the dog and called the shelter "several times" between Dec. 18 and Dec. 28 to see if it had turned up, the suit claims. But each time, "employees of the Animal Control Shelter would state that Hobo had not been picked up," the suit charges.
"After the first several days of calls to the shelter, the employees of the shelter began to become uncooperative, uncaring, unfriendly and hostile and repeated that Hobo had not been picked up and was not at the shelter," the suit says.
The women did not learn until Dec. 28, the day the dog was euthanized, that it had been picked up about 10:54 a.m. Dec. 18. Shelter employees admitted they made a mistake, the suit said.
Ms. Walko and Ms. Gordon would not comment yesterday.
Ms. Williams said that shelter workers make it clear to callers that telephone checks aren't good enough to see if a dog has turned up. Callers are encouraged to come in and check as often as possible.
"They've got to come through," she said. "If they don't come through, it's extremely difficult to tell over the phone whether the dog they're calling about is here or not."
Ms. Williams said that although someone may have come in and searched for Hobo Dec. 18, it probably was before the animal control officers reported in with that day's animals, usually between 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
The periodic calls made over the next 10 days were made by different people, who may have provided different descriptions, she said.
"There was no loss report, so there was nothing to check on every day when the animals were brought in," she said.