Clarice and Timothy Coppedge thought they were doing the right thing when they took their rescue dog to the Central California SPCA to see if she had a microchip that would identify her owner.
After the light brown Chihuahua showed up on the front porch of their central Fresno home on July 5, Clarice Coppedge put up “found dog” posters and online listings. The next day, the dog’s owner called and made arrangements to pick up the dog, whose name was Sandy.
However, “She never showed. She never came,” Coppedge said.
Because the owner had said she only had the tiny pooch for seven months, Coppedge figured there might have been an earlier owner of the 13-year-old dog. “So I thought maybe someone had been looking for her and that she might have a microchip.”
When the Coppedges took Sandy to the SPCA office west of Highway 99 on July 22, an employee found a microchip. The couple was told that Sandy would have to remain at the shelter until the owner showed up, even though they wanted to take Sandy back home.
“I never heard such a policy,” Clarice Coppedge said. “I tried to find out, but I don’t know if that’s (their) policy. No one ever told me if that’s their policy.”
They returned several times to get updates on Sandy and learned that the owner they had initially contacted was scheduled to pick Sandy up on July 23. When the owner didn’t retrieve her pet, the Coppedges told the SPCA they wanted their rescue dog back. That’s when they learned they would have to pay a hefty adoption fee.
“I’d be afraid she was going to be euthanized,” Clarice Coppedge said. “I think it’s wrong for them to charge someone so much to get a dog back.”
In a letter to the Fresno Bee, Coppedge expressed dismay at the SPCA’s adoption fee requirement. “I thought the SPCA tries to find good homes for unwanted animals,” she wrote. “I was giving an unwanted animal a good home, and the SPCA took it away.”
Two people who read her letter to the editor were inspired to send donations to cover the adoption fee. One donor spoke to SPCA and provided the $120 adoption fee, and another gave the Coppedges a $250 check that was later donated to SPCA.
The reunited family was happily snuggling on the couch Saturday as Sandy – now known as Sweet Pea – got some overdue tummy rubs.
Receiving donations is “heartwarming,” Clarice said.
“There’s still good people out there who like little doggies,” Timothy added.
Officials of the Central California SPCA could not be reached for comment Saturday.