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Lost Dog Mix-up at Pound: Thereby Hangs a Tale

May 09, 1985|LYNN SIMROSS | Times Staff Writer

It was April Fool's Day, ironically, when Tracy Morgan's troubles began. That was the day she lost her dog, Brandy.

Morgan, a 22-year-old travel agent who works in Burbank and lives in Chatsworth, has been embroiled in a dispute with the Los Angeles Department of Animal Regulation since her fluffy white 1 1/2-year-old Shih Tzu was picked up by animal regulation officers not far from Morgan's apartment.

No City License

Morgan says she tried to get Brandy--normally a house dog that wore a collar with a name tag and Morgan's phone number on it but did not have a city license--out of the pound, but had no success.

On April 9, the dog was adopted by a Van Nuys couple for $65.

So far, in spite of several attempts by department officials to get Brandy back for Morgan, the couple, whose identity animal regulation personnel will not divulge, refuses to give up the dog in lieu of a replacement.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Monday May 20, 1985 Home Edition View Part 5 Page 2 Column 1 View Desk 3 inches; 75 words Type of Material: Correction
In a May 9 article about a dog owner's dispute with the Los Angeles Department of Animal Regulation, it was stated that attorney Gloria Allred called the owner and offered to represent her after hearing about her case at a cocktail party. The dog owner, Tracy Morgan, says she has since learned that a message to call Allred did not come from the attorney but from a third party who had discussed the case with Allred at a cocktail party and had obtained Allred's phone number. Allred did not call the dog owner and did not solicit her as a client.

Morgan doesn't want another dog, either. She wants her own back.

Next week, Tracy Morgan plans to file a claim against the City of Los Angeles for damages--for the value of the dog and for the pain and suffering she said she has endured because of losing it.

Morgan also is concerned about her pet's health, explaining that she bred the dog to her grandmother's male Shih Tzu in March. "We didn't know yet whether it took," she said. "But I was going to let her have a litter and then have her spayed. Now I don't know what's happening to her."

The sequence of events is complex.

It seems, according to Morgan, that Brandy escaped from Morgan's patio at the apartment complex sometime after she left for work that morning, and was taken by animal control officers to the city's West Valley Animal Shelter on Plummer Street in Chatsworth.

Taken to Shelter

Elsa Lee, assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Animal Regulation, said that the small dog was taken to the shelter after "a person who lives on DeSoto called and said 'Come pick up this stray dog in my yard.' "

Morgan said that on the afternoon of April 1, a friend of hers stopped by her apartment and found that the dog was gone.

Benson, Morgan's other Shih Tzu, a 5-month-old puppy, was still there, but not Brandy. After checking with neighbors to ask if they had seen the dog, the friend went to the West Valley shelter and found Brandy there.

"He called and told me she was there, so I went right over after work," Morgan recalled. "I get off at five. I went back (to the kennels where the dogs are kept) and looked in the cages and there she was. I petted her and then the kennel man told me to go up to the front desk so I could claim her."

Morgan says the receptionist at the shelter's front desk told her she had to have personal identification with a photo, such as a California drivers' license or California ID card, in order to claim her dog. But Morgan did not have either, having been mugged and had her purse stolen two weeks earlier in a supermarket parking lot.

"I lost all my ID, plus my paycheck," Morgan said. "I had just cashed my paycheck. When I went to the shelter I just had a checkbook--I didn't have it with me when my purse was stolen. The checks had my name and address on them, but the woman said only an ID with my photo was acceptable," Morgan said. "I was upset and furious and I left. I went home to look for Brandy's AKC (American Kennel Club) papers and pictures of her."

Her First Dog

Morgan bought Brandy in August, 1983, as a birthday present to herself. She said that her family had had several dogs at their farm near Cincinnati, Ohio, when she was growing up, but that Brandy was the first dog she ever had owned. She paid $275 for the pedigreed Shih Tzu.

"She was 6 weeks old when I got her," Morgan said. "I got her for my 21st birthday. She went everywhere with me. She used to like to hop in a bag and I'd carry her. She was so little. Benson (the puppy) misses her, too. He's lonesome."

Both Morgan and her friend insist that they went to the shelter on Monday, April 1, but Lee said that department records say neither of them came to the shelter until Tuesday, April 2.

"I don't care what they say, they're wrong. That's a lie," Morgan said, obviously upset. "I went there right after I got off work."

Assistant general manager Lee said that according department records from the shelter, Morgan came to West Valley on April 2 and did not come back until Tuesday, April 9, the day Brandy was adopted by the undisclosed couple.

Morgan fumed again when she heard that.

Conflicting Dates

"I didn't go Tuesday (April 2) because I had school that night," she said. "I go to school Tuesdays and Thursdays."

Morgan attends West Valley Occupational Center in Woodland Hills, where she is studying accounting.

"I found her papers (AKC registration) and brought them back with some pictures on Wednesday, and the receptionist--there was an older woman there, too--looked briefly at them and said, 'I don't make the rules. You'll have to get some form of ID with a photo.' "

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