It’s every pet guardian’s greatest nightmare: On July 3, Lori Goodlett returned to her home in Frankfort, Ky., to find that her 11-year-old Shiba Inu was no longer in her fenced backyard.
From there the story took a strange turn when, over the next few days, Goodlett discovered that her American Kennel Club-registered dog was released into the wild after the Frankfort Humane Society in Kentucky misidentified the dog as a coyote.
When Copper went missing, Goodlett called the Humane Society. Employees there insisted that no stray dogs had been turned in and promptly hung up. Godlett called back to leave her contact information and the breed of the dog, but was cut short again.
The next day Goodlett hung posters in her neighborhood, and a police offer recognized Copper as the gentle dog he had taken to the shelter. Allegedly, shelter workers then called the police, saying that they had to get rid of the animal because they could not legally house coyotes.
After consulting a wildlife expert who referred to coyotes as “nuisance animals” that should be returned to the wild or killed, the police turned the animal loose behind the local Home Depot.
The police captain and a veteran officer went to Goodlett’s house to deliver the news and apologize for the chain of events. At the time of this writing, the Humane Society has not yet apologized, and stands by their decision, saying that if the animal was assessed to be a coyote then it could not legally remain in the shelter.
Meanwhile, observers are frustrated at the organization’s inability to accurately identify the dog.
“A coyote would not have gone peacefully into a crate,” says Nancy Guillion, volunteer coordinator for the nearby Shelby County Humane Society. “Coyotes would have exhibited snarling, feral behavior.”
In a statement Goodlett says, “People would say when Copper was young, she looked like a fox with her pointy ears and red coloring, but no one has ever mistaken her for a coyote.”
Local police and volunteers have been setting up traps and performing searches for Copper, and PETA has offered a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the dog’s return. Contact Trudi Johnson at (502) 330-0884, or call the Frankfort Police if you have any information.
Visit the Facebook group Justice for Copper (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=140593429304055&ref=ts) for updates on the search. –Valerie Lute