- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

OTTERBEIN, Ind. (AP) - A Benton County resident’s quest to retrieve a pet husky who ran off one snowy night in January - and now is blamed in an attack on several Purdue University calves - has gotten her nowhere.

Shannon Johnson of Otterbein, former owner of a male husky she calls Jax, said her dog escaped from her home in a snowstorm. By the time she traced the animal to a kennel in Battle Ground, Jax had been placed with another family. The kennel owner says Johnson can’t get Jax back.

“It’s a moral issue,” Johnson told the Journal & Courier (http://on.jconline.com/1kWLyVx ).

She just wants her dog, she said, and she’s willing to help find a replacement for the new owner.

But Nita Pollack, owner of Crystal Creek Kennel, where Jax was taken the night of the storm, doesn’t believe the moral compass points in Johnson’s favor, and she won’t provide the owner’s name.

“The bottom line is, we held the animal for five days, neutered him and re-homed him,” Pollock said.

The dog arrived at the kennel in Battle Ground covered in blood, following an attack on several calves at a Purdue University owned-farm in northwest Tippecanoe County. The dog did not have tags, she noted.

Johnson doesn’t deny that her dog was involved in the attack but said he had tags the last time she saw him.

The night of Jan. 25, Johnson had returned home to her three huskies - Jax, a female named Willow, and their 4-month-old puppy, Opie.

Johnson let Opie out, as she had before, without a leash. She was confident he wouldn’t run away.

“He’s a mama’s boy,” and young, she said.

Meanwhile, Jax and Willow sat in the mudroom, waiting for their turn to go out. Johnson took a seat on a couch and was smoking a cigarette when she noticed the open storm door at the back of the house.

“I took off running,” she said, and found Opie sitting outside the door, looking up at her.

“It was blowing and snowing like you wouldn’t believe. I couldn’t go looking, but I knew they’d come back,” Johnson said.

Willow and Jax had run away before, on separate occasions, she said. Both times she was able to retrieve her pets. This time turned out differently.

On Jan. 26, Willow returned, but Johnson could not find Jax.

Johnson didn’t know at the time that Jax and Willow, along with an unidentified dog, had gone on a rampage at the Purdue dairy farm about five miles from her home outside Otterbein.

The trio killed one calf and injured eight. One calf was so badly injured it had to be put down. Tippecanoe County sheriff’s deputies captured Jax; Willow and the accomplice scampered away.

The deputy took Jax to Crystal Creek Kennel, per protocol. Any stray or loose pet picked up in the county is taken to that kennel, which has a contract with the county.

“I compare the situation to putting three teenage kids with a six-pack in a sports car,” Pollock said of the havoc the dogs caused at the dairy farm. She said Jax had “quite a bit of blood on him” when he arrived at the kennel.

“He was a nice dog,” Pollock said. Between five and nine days later, he was adopted by a new family.

“The law says if we have contact with the owner, it’s a three-day hold. If not, it’s a five-day hold,” Pollock said. “She didn’t contact us.”

Johnson said she had no idea her dogs had been picked up in Tippecanoe County or that Crystal Creek Kennel was the county’s contracted animal shelter. Johnson was a resident of Otterbein, where Jax and Willow are registered.

She listed Jax on Craigslist, a classified advertisements website. A member of Lost and Found Pets of Greater Lafayette saw Johnson’s ad and contacted her. Johnson sent the woman a photo of Jax, and the woman told Johnson to call Crystal Creek Kennel as soon as possible.

“I didn’t know Crystal Creek was the one to call,” Johnson said. “I thought, ‘That’s in Battle Ground. How would Jax get there?’ “

She had contacted the Benton County Sheriff’s Department to alert them about her missing dog, she said.

Johnson lives less than a mile from the Tippecanoe County line.

The advice to call the kennel came on the eighth day of Jax’s absence. Johnson and her fiance contacted the kennel the next day.

“My fiance called, and they told him they found him and it may be ours and that it was well-mannered,” she said. “They told him Jax had gotten into the Purdue dairy farm with the calves with two other dogs, and they had done quite a bit of damage. I didn’t know what the conversation was, but my fiance started screaming at her.”

Pollock said she told the former owners that the kennel neutered the male husky and adopted him out after a five-day holding period.

“The last time (Jax ran away) I put up fliers and we went through all that trouble. I figured everybody knows him,” Johnson said while explaining why she did not search high and low.

Risk manager Mark Kebert is not sure whether Purdue will seek compensation for the dead and injured calves.

“We do consider restitution, just like anybody would, but we won’t know until we assess the full damage. It could take weeks or months,” Kebert said.

April Keck, Tippecanoe County animal control officer, has since filed a dangerous animal agreement against Willow and is still searching for the third dog.

The kennel began advertising the male husky when it received him Jan. 25. Pollock said that’s how they do things.

“The reason that photo was put up immediately was because we were frantically trying to find the owner of the dog,” she said. “Then we specified when it would be available for adoption. That’s how you stay no-kill, and it gives credible rescue groups a chance to contact you if the dog goes unclaimed.

“Why would you wait until day six to put a picture up?”

Johnson doesn’t agree.

“They should have to wait,” she said, and give owners a chance to find their dogs. Johnson plans to have Willow spayed and both dogs microchipped this week.

“We’re not bad owners. I know a lot of people aren’t good to their pets, but ours is family.”

Pollock is not obligated to provide information about the new owner to Johnson, nor is she obligated to contact the new owners and become a mediator.

As far as Pollock is concerned, the husky is doing very well.

“On a positive note, the dog is in a great home. They called us back to tell us how well he’s doing and how much they like him,” Pollock said.

___

Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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