For one Hillsboro family, finding their lost dog was as much a nightmare as when they first discovered her missing.
Even though Lacey, a 7-year-old Golden Retriever, has since been found and identified by her owners, Brad and Jane Wiens, rural Hillsboro, they still cannot bring her home. In fact, they may never be able to.
Not only is Lacey a good farm dog, Jane Wiens said, but when she went missing in mid-Septem?ber, her son, Sheldon, 17, was heartbroken.
?We did everything we could think of to find her,? she said.
The police, area veterinarians, neighbors and Caring Hands Humane Society in Newton were all contacted during the search.
When she first called the Newton shelter, Wiens was told that a dog was picked up in North Newton. The next day, she again inquired and was told it was north Walton, not North Newton, where a dog had been found.
?They sent me a picture and it was our dog,? she said,
The problem was Lacey had already been transferred from the Newton facility to the Golden Retriever Freedom Rescue site in Colorado.
Unbeknownst to Wiens, whenever a dog is taken to a shelter in Kansas, after three days the owner no longer legally has possession of the animal.
After finding out Lacey was in Colorado, Wiens called GRFR to inquire about getting her back.
?I was told our dog had heartworm, an ear infection and bladder infection, and that she deserves better than that,? Wiens said.
Stunned by what she was being told, Wiens said she had taken Lacey to her Hillsboro vet in April 2010 for an infection and it was treated. No one recommended a heartworm test.
The family hasn?t given up in trying to bring Lacey home, but at times the task is daunting.
The latest disappointment was Monday, she said, when the GRFR wrote the Wienses, stating the family?s standard of care is different than their organization?s and they were not going to relinquish Lacey.
Wiens said nothing in the letter specifically targeted what the GRFR thought was different.
The Wienses farm land 12 miles from where they live. In September, the family took Lacey to that area by truck. Once back home, the dog must have tried to return to that area.
?She had never done this before,? Jane Wiens said.
About two weeks later, Jane called the Newton facility to ask about her dog.
?When I saw the picture they sent me, she had lost at least 10 pounds from the time she left our residence,? she said. ?Lacey was starving and dehydrated and looked thin and undernourished.?
The Colorado facility inferred that the Wiens were not good caregivers.
?I have invited GRFR to visit our homestead, but they have declined. (The facility) has access to a whole community of people to question our reputation,? she said. ?They have called our local vet and they have heard about who we are and how we care for our pets and farm animals.?
Emotional roller coaster
The loss of their dog, twice, has been devastating, but the family continues to resolve the problem.
?Our son wishes for his dog and hopes for her return,? she said. ?Sheldon is autistic and he and Lacey had a sweet relationship.?
Their dog did not run away because she was treated badly, Wiens said. She ran because of the adventure, like a normal retriever would do.
Advice for others
Anyone who has lost a pet knows it can be like losing a member of the family.
Wiens encourages anyone who thinks they may have lost their dog, cat or other animal not to wait.
?Start looking as soon as possible,? she said.
Their dog was taken to a shelter 25 miles from home. In hindsight, Wiens said she would have contacted the Newton shelter a lot sooner, checking databases and other resources.
Wiens hopes that whoever adopts Lacey will sit with her so that maybe she will remember a glimpse of her Kansas family and particularly Sheldon.
In addition to Sheldon, Jane and her husband have two daughters: Natalie and Brook?lyn.