One of two dogs returned to owner who couldn’t afford shelter, licensing fees

Posted at 5:44 PM, Jun 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-19 17:44:54-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- After an outpouring of support and fundraising, one of two dogs' fees were paid and she was returned home from the Kent County Animal Shelter Monday afternoon.

"[Bella's] up to date, she’s home, she’s happy," said Todd Spaans, dog owner.

After FOX 17's story about Spaans' predicament, local animal rescues and community members wanted to help. The story began back on June 1 when Spaans was in South Carolina fishing while a family member watched his dogs, Jesse and Bella. The pair escaped into the neighbor's yard, and the neighbor called animal control.

Spaans told FOX 17 he called the shelter June 1 but couldn't afford the fees. He got home June 3 and went to the shelter June 7, but the fees added up to $536, including $75 per dog because their county licenses had expired.

While Bella is a home, Spaans and his family are looking for his 3-and-half-year-old coon hound named Jesse. Shelter records show Jesse was adopted by a local family June 14.

"I adopted [Jesse] out at eight months old, and it would be a great pleasure to get her back and continue our friendship and raising her up," said Spaans.

Julie Steffen, who runs Mosh Pit Rescue,stepped up to cover the nearly $400 she said it cost to bring Bella home Monday. Spaans says he will donate his GoFundMe funds to Mosh Pit.

"A lot of this is just because I care about the dogs and I want a better life for the dogs, and obviously for this dog, for Bella, that’s with Todd," said Steffen.

"So many people I haven’t even gotten to respond to, it’s overwhelming, and it pleases my heart to know that there’s good people out there still want good," said Spaans of all who helped.

Now Sasha’s Angel Rescue Network is offering a $250 reward to return Jesse to Spaans, plus covering all adoption fees from a shelter of the family’s choice to rescue another dog.

Steffen says it took investigative work to get Bella released on Monday.

"We saw your story online posting about a man whose dogs were missing, and we called the shelter [Monday] morning as the rescue, offering to pay the fees for the dog so that he could be reunited with his animals," said Steffen. "And we were told that the dogs had been adopted. We kind of knew that wasn’t true somehow."

After calling, Steffen shared pictures she received that showed Bella was still up for adoption at the shelter.

"I don’t know if that was a miscommunication or what exactly that was, rest assured we’re looking into it," said Steve Kelso, Kent County spokesperson. "That is not us. We really want to communicate firmly and honestly with anybody who wants to call here."

Kelso reminds dog owners if the dogs’ licenses had been valid, $150 in penalty fees would have been avoided. Each day, fees increased by $17 in boarding costs per dog.

"Not having your dog licensed, and in this case the inaction of not doing anything, really ran those fees up to where it really became an unfortunate situation," said Kelso.