HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A desperate plea into the disappearance of a family pet led a local couple on a helpless chase for answers.
Christopher and Desislava Mertens were on vacation overseas visiting family,when they got a phone call every dog-owner dreads: their 2-year-old pure-bred yellow lab was missing.
Given to Desislava as a birthday gift two years ago, Bodey was a cherished member of their family. The young married couple raised him from a puppy. They were sick thinking about him being lost while they were gone, and immediately launched a search party.
"We did Facebook, Craigslist, every page we could think of as far as spreading the word," said Christopher Mertens.
They enlisted the help of friends and local shops, putting up posters and online posts every day.
"Then we heard a rumor that a neighbor, a few doors down, called animal control," Mertens said.
The couple contacted the Animal Care Center shortly after the dog went missing, but to no avail.
"When I contacted ACC, they didn't have any records of him being there," Mertens said, but they didn't give up.
"I tracked down the Animal Control officer, got his badge number. I was able to coax him into telling me that Bodey had been adopted," Mertens recalled.
A county spokesperson confirmed that animal control officers don't have access to information on whether a dog is adopted or euthanized.
The couple was able to dig into the case, finding out Bodey's pen number and even getting the intake picture of him from the shelter.
"But they wouldn't give any other information, basically saying the dog was there for seven days, and that was the extent of his stay," Mertens said.
They wanted to contact the family that adopted the dog to make sure he was healthy and happy, and "just to see him again, to know he's safe. Because right now, it's every night…we have no idea," Mertens expressed.
The Mertens say the ACC wouldn't take their information to pass along, saying there was no record of an adopting family. They reached out to WMBF News for help in connecting them.
According to County records, Bodey was brought into the shelter on January 11th.
On January 17th, Bodey was euthanized.
"After digging, and asking, and everything we've been through, and then finding out our dog…he wasn't….he wasn't adopted. That he had been put to sleep," said Mertens.
The county says per law, animals at the ACC become property of the county after five days. The couple said five days is too short.
"If you pick up a dog and you give that dog five days to live, but you don't post a picture of him, or put up anything notifying anyone of that, you're not giving that animal a chance, period," said Mertens.
The sad reality, the county says, is thousands of animals are brought to the Animal Care Center every year. The decision to put an animal down is based on the animal's health, the potential to be adopted, and the amount of space in the shelter.
The county said the ACC has 70 dog runs. On the day Bodey was put down, there were over 200 dogs in the shelter.