RICHMOND, Va. – The happy tale of two dogs placed together for adoption – Blue Dozer and OJ, a blind dachshund -- took a heartbreaking turn when OJ was found separated from his pal, about 100 miles away from where they were adopted in Richmond.
The pair were originally surrendered when their owner became homeless, according to posts by Richmond Animal Care and Control. A picture of the two animals went viral on social media and they were quickly adopted.
OJ., the elder of the two, relied on Blue Dozer and they would need to be adopted together, according to the posts.
Now OJ is being held by Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center. How he came to be at the Staunton shelter is not certain. A representative with RACC, who declined to go on camera, said OJ was surrendered.
Page Hearn, whose original posts about the dogs was shared hundreds of time, said that a person found OJ walking along the road and brought it in. Hearn runs the rescue group Virginia Paws for Pits in Augusta County. She said the microchip traced back to RACC, who contacted the adopter, who then surrendered the dog so she wouldn't be charged with abandonment.
The adopter, who initially contacted Hearn for information, said she would not surrender Blue Dozer or take back the blind dog, according to Hearn. After the new posts also went viral, the adopter (who CBS 6 won't name because she hasn't been charged with a crime), said that she is going to turn over the dog to RACC. Hearn shared with CBS 6 messages exchanged between the two online. Hearn said RACC is going to pick up OJ, and hopefully Blue Dozer.
A representative locally confirmed that the adopter still has Blue Dozer. RACC has not commented specifically on the situation at this time.
Valerie Paul, who owns the canine training, grooming and daycare Impawsible Pups, said the dachshund likely relied on the pit bull for more than just sight.
“…It's less about having one dog help the other dog get around and see, and more about a comfort level. They know that there is someone there they can trust,” she said.
She also said the sudden separation of a bonded pair can be harmful for the animals.
The Richmond SPCA said they currently have a similar bonded pair that they hope will be adopted together. They also said prospective pet owners can disappoint them and that people are not totally predictable.
“There is no shelter that doesn't have an adoption not turn out well from time to time because people are not totally predictable,” said Robin Starr, CEO of Richmond SPCA.
The Shenandoah Valley Animal Services did not return multiple voicemails and messages about the situation.
RACC Director Christie Chipps Peters said in an email that they “are very upset over what has transpired."
Staff members did not say whether the adopter signed a contract to keep the dogs together.
Starr said they only require people to sign adoption agreements, but may take different steps moving forward.
“Every adopter signs an adoption agreement that is about how they will responsibly care for the pet post-adoption,” Starr said. “It does not include a commitment to keep the bonded pair together. Perhaps we will change that now that we hear what happened with this very tragic situation. On a personal level, we contact all adopters to ensure that the adoption situation is going well, and of course with bonded pairs, that means they are being kept together.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.