Pets 

Wiener war

A wiener dog finds himself in the middle of a dispute that may soon involve a lawsuit—high doggie drama even in a mutt mad town like Missoula

Last March, Corinna Spelts' dachshund named Gunner went missing in the South Hills area of Missoula, and 10 months later she still held out hope that she'd find him. As recently as Jan. 16 the 30-year-old posted an ad on Craigslist offering a cash reward for the squat pup to be returned home.

Little did Spelts know that Gunner—or at least the dog she thinks is Gunner—had been found, and, in mid-December, someone else had adopted him from the Humane Society of Western Montana (HSWM).

"So now the dog has a new owner," Spelts says, "and I have to go to court."

Spelts, who filed lost-dog reports with HSWM and Missoula County Animal Control, claims HSWM failed to perform its due diligence to find the dog's owner when Gunner—if it is indeed Gunner—was dropped off at its facility after being found in Drummond.

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But HSWM Director Lora O'Connor says the shelter followed the protocol it always follows when someone drops off a stray, including listing the dog in the Missoulian for several days and scanning it for a microchip.

"We do everything we can to try to reunite lost pets and their families," O'Connor says. "We want them to go back home.

An acquaintance of the adopter saw Spelts' Craiglist post, noticed a resemblance, and sent Spelts photos of the dog. They were enough to convince Spelts that the dog belonged to her.

"Don't count on them as a resource to help find your pet," Spelts says of HSWM.

O'Connor says she can't remember a similar circumstance in her 10 years at the shelter, and she hopes Spelts won't take legal action.

As for the wiener dog—Gunner or not—the present owner, who declined to disclose its name, says he's "fantastic."

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