POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WTSP) -- If your pet has a microchip and it runs away, you probably assume you can easily find it. However, a woman from Auburndale said her dog had a microchip, and Polk County Animal Control still put down her dog.
Kristi Durham loved her 3-year-old special needs Beagle as if he were her child. When she moved from Kentucky to Florida, Lefty came, too, but she was worried sick when he ran away.
“I've rescued animals, strays and such for the past several years and I just prayed that I would be fortunate enough to get back some of that goodwill and get my baby back,” she said.
She searched for Lefty, posted online and called Animal Control, but she didn't have any luck.
The next morning, Durham's husband went to Animal Control hoping that somebody found Lefty and brought him there. When he went inside, they told him that Lefty had already been put down.
“It's heartbreaking, and nothing's ever going to bring my baby back,” Durham said.
Animal Control said its vet determined Lefty was sick.
“This was not a healthy animal,” said Carrie Horstman, a spokesperson for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office which runs Animal Control. “This was not an animal she felt would benefit from any sort of medical help or attention. She felt it was in the dog's best interest to be euthanized.”
Before doing that, Animal Control said it scanned Lefty's microchip and found it was registered with a company called 24PetWatch. The phone number under Lefty's name was wrong and the address was still in Kentucky.
“That's something that we can't fix or control,” Horstman said. “That was a bad number with a company that we don't use.”
Durham hopes Animal Control and other pet owners learn from her story to make sure a pet's microchip information is up to date.
“No one else should ever have to go through this again,” she said.
Animal Control said you should also always go to look for your pet in person, not by phone, so you can tell for sure if it's the right one. They're letting Durham adopt a dog for free if she wants to.
In a statement to 10News WTSP, 24PetWatch said it offers its condolences to Durham. They also said they confirm account information with pet owners at the time of the adoption and regularly after that.
"We then send quarterly emails to pet owners reminding them of the status of their microchip account and encouraging them to confirm that all information is correct," it read. "We also do periodic checks with the National Change of Address registry to try to identify any pet owners that may have new contact information and ask them to contact us if we see a discrepancy in the data."