Kingsville, TX – The owner of a retired Border Patrol K9 has filed a lawsuit as part of his efforts to get his dog back because the local animal shelter transferred the dog to a rescue organization without checking to see if he was microchipped.
The dog’s owner, Border Patrol Agent Brian Buchanan, was partnered with K9 Endy for six years as both worked for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, KZTV reported.
When K9 Endy retired, he became property of Agent Buchanan and has lived with the agent’s family ever since – meaning he has been a member of the Buchanan household for about 11 years while working and retired, according to the lawsuit filed by Agent Buchanan on Feb. 12, the Corpus Christi Caller Times reported.
On New Year’s Eve, K9 Endy was frightened by fireworks and ran off, devastating his loving family, according to the lawsuit.
What happened next, after the person who found him turned him over to animal control, made the situation even more upsetting.
The animal shelter did not keep K9 Endy for the number of days they were supposed to, which would have allowed his owners to find him, the Corpus Christi Caller Times reported.
Instead, they allowed him to be adopted early on Jan. 2 by the Kingsville Animal Advocates, who shared his picture on their Facebook page, incorrectly labeling the Belgian Malinois as a German Shepherd.
It turns out that the animal shelter in Kingsville had not checked K9 Endy’s microchip as is their policy, KZTV reported.
“In this specific case, it’s my understanding that the aggressive behavior of the dog did not allow staff to thoroughly analyze for the chip,” Kingsville City Manager Jesus Garza explained.
But when Agent Buchanan contacted Kingsville Animal Advocates, they refused to let him see the dog.
In fact, it turned out that they gave the dog to the American Belgian Malinois Rescue (ABMR) on Jan. 5 and the organization moved the dog to Wisconsin, the Corpus Christi Caller Times reported.
When he found out where his best friend had been sent, Agent Buchanan contacted ABMR and provided proof of ownership to get his dog back.
The dog’s owner was initially told that they were working on getting his dog back to him, according to the Retired Police Canine Foundation’s (RPK9F) official Facebook page.
RPK9F got involved to try and help the retired police dog be reunited with his handler.
But the rescue organization refused to return K9 Endy and said the animal hadn’t been well cared for by his owners, citing among other things, the condition of his teeth, according to KZTV.
“I know one of the things they’re complaining about is teeth,” Agent Buchanan said. “As a working dog, these teeth get ground down. He’s been to the dentist. He’s had root canals done. I mean, what dog gets a root canal?”
ABMR told the agent that the dog was in a “safe place” receiving veterinary care, but they wouldn’t tell him where his dog was.
“All ABMR had to do was scan his microchip and call border patrol to verify Brian was the owner but they didn’t. When they kept delaying this process and stopped answering his questions Brian reached out to our foundation for help,” RPK9A explained in a lengthy Facebook post that chronicled the nightmare Agent Buchanan has endured since K9 Endy disappeared on New Year’s Eve.
RPK9A offered to pay all of K9 Endy’s veterinary expenses – past and present – as well as reimburse ABMR for the cost of transporting him home. They also promised to cover the cost of any additional veterinary care that was needed.
Initially the rescue organization replied and said the dog was thriving in a foster home while they confirmed his ownership.
When RPK9A followed up, ABMR claimed they were conducting an investigation to prove ownership and made allegations of neglect, according to the post.
Instead of working with Agent Buchanan or RPK9A, the rescue organization released a statement to the press that said they were “exploring” filing charges against K9 Endy’s owner for neglecting him.
"This dog was deemed unadoptable by the shelter due to his age and medical conditions and was going to be euthanized,” the statement read, according to the Corpus Christi Caller Times. “ABMR legally rescued the dog before he was to be euthanized, giving him a second chance at life.”
But Agent Buchanan and the RPK9A said that was not what happened at all.
“K9 Endy is microchipped, which comes back to the US Border Patrol but American Belgian Malinois Rescue failed to make the right calls and is now refusing to give the K9 Endy back to his handler, Brian Buchanan, who has proof of ownership, vet records, dental records, pictures and videos of Endy at home with his family,” RPK9A wrote on their post.
Despite the Kingsville city manager’s assertions that they couldn’t check the dog’s microchip because he was aggressive, ABMR posted pictures of the dog with one of its volunteers.
“It has come to our attention that ABMR should NOT even have Endy because of the bitework training he has, so why are they holding on to him and putting their rescue at risk by having him in foster homes with other dogs? That’s a big liability for the rescue, something many of their supporters aren’t happy about,” RPK9A wrote on their page.
Left with no other alternative, Agent Buchanan filed a lawsuit on Feb. 12 that alleged theft, libel, slander, and defamation against ABMR, Marica Tockson, Roxanne Sandt, Katherine Villarreal, Matt Henry, Kingsville Animal Advocates, and the City of Kingsville, the Corpus Christi Caller Times reported.
All of the individuals named in the lawsuit have addresses in Kingsville or the Kingsville area.
Dianne Leubert, the registered agent for Kingsville Animal Advocates, is also a Kingsville City Commissioner, according to the Corpus Christi Caller Times.
The lawsuit also sought a restraining order to prevent ABMR from "destroying, euthanizing, hiding, concealing or otherwise withholding Endy.”
Agent Buchanan's lawyer explained to KIII that the whole problem occurred when Kingsville animal control broke city ordinance by illegally releasing K9 Endy to Kingsville Animal Advocates before the statutory three business days his owners had to locate and reclaim him.
"We've gone through records, city ordinance on when they can release the dog and they released him too early,” Agent Buchanan said. “According to their paperwork on their intake sheet through animal control, he cannot be released until Jan 8. He was released on Jan. 5.”
A petition created by the RPK9A had garnered more than 138,000 signatures as of April 1.