Boarding Kennel Mix-Up

April 18, 2008 at 7:28 pm 4 comments

Here’s a story from our “Yikes! I’m sure glad that didn’t happen to me!” files:

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. – Ken Griggs finally brought the right dog home. More than two weeks after he claimed a boarding kennel returned the wrong dog to him after spring break; he and his family were reunited with their black Labrador named Callie.

Callie shared a kennel with another female black Labrador named Dixie and when Griggs came to get Callie on March 30, he somehow ended up with Dixie instead. He said that he knew something was wrong when the family cat, who enjoys Callie’s company, hissed at the dog.

He returned the dog to the kennel where the kennel owner contacted the owners of the other eight black Labradors that stayed there that week. The woman who owns Dixie (who shared a kennel with Callie) told kennel owner Allison Best that her dog seemed to have undergone a personality change, but still insisted she had the right dog.

Best arranged for both owners and their dogs to meet anyway.

Griggs arrived at the kennel before the woman who had the other dog. When he arrived a black Lab became excited when he and his children approached. The kids declared the dog was Callie, and family returned home with her. The dog they took home turned out to be the same one they had just returned.

The kids were happy but Griggs was still convinced he did not have the right dog, so he took her to his regular veterinarian who confirmed through X-rays that the dog lacked the surgical marks Callie should have.

Callie’s been with our family for seven years,” he said. “We’ve had her since birth. I’ve got five kids who have grown up with this dog, and she’s part of the family. We just want to get our dog back.”

Neither dog has an identifying microchip or tattoo.

The Doppelgangers

“Mr. Griggs kind of lost his credibility with me the second time he came into the kennel with his family and reclaimed the same dog,” the kennel owern said. “If he can’t recognize his dog, I don’t feel I can be any help.”

The case was finally resolved after media reports prompted a call to the kennel owner from an acquaintance of the woman who had Dixie.  The called told her that “Dixie was not Dixie.” After receiving the call, Best visited the woman’s house and examined the dog. Her examination revealed that the dog was probably Callie and she told the woman she needed to meet with Griggs.

The Griggs’ were reunited with the real Callie on Wednesday. Griggs commented that “I’m happy and relieved and just want things to get back to normal.”

Best told The Oregonian newspaper she had no comment about how the confusion might have occurred. “We tried to do everything we could, and it’s really unfortunate we had two customers who couldn’t identify their dogs,” she said.

Referring to the mixup, “I was very concerned when that happened,” said Allison Best, the kennel owner. “I’ve been in business 10 years and I’ve never heard of anything like this happening.”

The mix-up may have been prevented by the use of identifying collars, but the kennel did not allow dogs to wear collars because it considered them dangerous.

Since the incident, the Tail Wag-Inn has started using paper identification collars that list each dog’s name and owner, Best said. The kennel previously did not use any collars for fear they could get caught on fences, the paper collars, however, break away for safety.

Callie also will get new identification, she has an appointment today with her veterinarian to get a microchip.

What You Can do to Prevent This:

  • Have your dog tattooed or microchipped — especially if he or she is a breed where many dogs have a similar appearance.
  • Be familiar with your dog’s identifying marks and check them when you pick the dog up.  If Griggs had checked the dog’s dewclaws, the problem may have been recognized much sooner.
  • Before you board your dog find out exactly how kennel staff will handle and identify your him and ask what procedures they go through to check a dog out to its owner.
  • Don’t let a facility keep your dog in the same kennel or cage with a strange dog — especially one that is of the same breed and color as your dog!
  • Teach your dog some unusual tricks.  Have him do a few before you take him home.

Entry filed under: amazing, dog, dogs, pet, pets, safety. Tags: , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Audie's Gramma  |  April 18, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    “If he can’t recognize his dog, I don’t feel I can be any help.”

    That kind of covers it, doesn’t it?

  • 2. Marjorie  |  April 21, 2008 at 1:01 am


    At first blush, I have to admit I was thinking, ‘This is exactly the kind of thing that reminds me why I’m bored by breeds where members are bred to look identical to each other.’

    That, of course, is not my exact feeling. I like all dogs, regardless of appearance. And I like RR’s, for example, very much. With rare exceptions, they’re bred to look identical. But my mind auomatically goes to Labs, Goldens, Springers, Setters, and on and on. At least some come in a few (solid) colours to choose from.

    As a life-long Dane owner and fancier, I don’t think I’ve ever mistaken two Danes for each other, much less my own with someone else’s. The closest I came was meeting a 3-years-younger Dane that was astonishingly so close to my own (brindle!) Dane’s appearance, I understood why people confused me for the other dog’s owner. “Weren’t you just at the other end of the park,” one woman queried. “Uh, no,” I replied, puzzled. Eventually I heard about the “twin” and we subsequently met. She was easy to spot, given the admitted likeness. (Brindling is so unique, it’s unusual to find two dogs with brindling patterns that are substantially similar. Then there’s gender, size, fitness, cropping…) I wouldn’t never have mistaken the two dogs for each other, though.

    If anything, this story kind of hints that the “something” I always thought was up with suburban-type dog/Lab owners, might actually have some real-world validity. Barring some expanse of time, where maybe the dog’s appearance changed dramatically, how can you not “know” your own dog????

  • 3. Jen Robinson  |  April 29, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    As a kennel owner and Lab breeder:
    – I’ve never seen two Labs look so much alike that you can’t tell them apart. Not even litter-mates. But owners picking up their dogs often don’t look closely — except at the wagging tail.
    – It’s a great tribute to the adaptability of Labbies that both dogs seemed to have taken it in stride when they went to the wrong families.
    – microchips are a good idea
    – don’t avoid putting labs together in a kennel. They often like one another. I often have Labbies that cry when I put them in alone and are quite happy when I kennel them with a compatible Lab.

  • 4. Mint  |  May 17, 2008 at 9:04 am

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