By Carol Ferguson
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The lost dog has an identification tag with a phone number, but the Good Samaritan who found it still can’t find its home.
The tag includes the phone number for a local pet hospital, but that facility doesn’t have a way to track down the owner.
It’s all frustrating to Earl Vaughn.
“I found this dog, it was about 10:30 Friday night,” Vaughn told Eyewitness News Wednesday morning. “She ran out in front of me, I came really close to hitting her.”
Vaughn says he called to the little pooch, and she came right over. He even drove around for a while in the area around North High School hoping to find an owner looking for their lost pet.
The small dog is black, brown and white. Vaughn thinks she looks like a long-haired chihuahua.
“Her name is Gypsy,” he said. “She’s our little gypsy dog.”
But, it’s Vaughn’s dog only until he can find the owner, and he started on that Friday night.
“I took her home,” he said. “And I found the tag on her.”
The tag says: 2006. If found, please call 4 Paws Pet Hospital.
The tag includes the pet hospital address on Mexicali Drive, and a phone number. The tag is metal, and the information and a serial number are stamped into it.
Vaughn said he called the number Saturday at about 7:45 a.m. and a man answered.
“They asked me what did the tag say. I tried to read the serial number,” Vaughn said. “They asked me, No, what did the date say?” Vaughn said he read off 2006, and was surprised by the next answer.
“They said they didn’t have records for the dog any more.” He expected a clinic would keep records for at least five years.
At 4 Paws Pet Hospital, Dr. Sandhu Makand said he remembers the call coming in on Sunday morning.
“I told him I’m not at the clinic,” Dr. Makand said. “He said, what should he do? I said, call Animal Control.”
The vet said he also advised the caller to put a “found dog” ad in the newspaper.
Each man remembers the conversation differently. Vaughn was frustrated he couldn’t get information about the dog’s owner from the pet hospital.
“I hung up the phone, and I figured, ‘OK, I’ll just post it on Craigslist and do what I can.’”
Vaughn said he got some response to that Internet posting. One woman came out to look at the dog, checked her, and told him the pooch didn’t have a micro-chip.
Kern County Animal Control spokeswoman Kim Rodriguez said that is the best thing for pet owners to do. An animal can be scanned, and information about the owner can be tracked down through a data-base.
Eyewitness News did a spot check of other local pet hospitals to see if others hand out ID tags to owners. Five clinics said they do not, five others said they offer tags when a pet gets a rabies shot. The tag has the clinic’s phone number, and it’s given as a courtesy.
These pet hospitals said under California law, they must keep medical records and information on pets for at least three years after their last visit. Several of the clinics said they actually keep pet information much longer than that.
The vet at 4 Paws said the tags they give out are a courtesy to pet-owners.
“No consideration was paid for it,” Mukand said. Whoever owns the little lost dog, they did not pay for that tag. It was free.
“By doing these tags, this is the one dog we could not help,” Mukand said. “We’ve helped thousands of dogs.”
He also stressed his clinic provides spay and neuter services and works with rescue groups.
Vaughn said he can’t keep “Gypsy.” The dog he already owns is jealous, and besides Gypsy must already have an owner. The little pooch is well-groomed, she has a collar and small bell, new flea collar, and she’s very well-behaved. She’s clearly somebody’s pet, and he thinks she could have disappeared over the Fourth of July.
“This is somebody’s child,” he said, “that needs to find its home.”