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Animal shelter claims efforts were made to find Oxnard family of lost pet

UPDATE – Friday, August 24, 2018

Ventura County Animal Services released this statement Friday:

“This was a very unfortunate event and we would like to take this opportunity to explain the circumstances behind the adoption of Jack:

On June 5, 2018, Jack, a five-year-old, white, West Highland Terrier, was brought to the Camarillo Animal Shelter as a stray by a good Samaritan. VCAS scanned him for a microchip, as is the standard practice with every pet brought to the shelter, and a microchip was discovered. VCAS had owner contact information on file from a previous impound in 2015. Shelter staff called the number several times over a number of days attempting to leave messages, but no voicemail options were available. Additionally, a shelter officer began texting the phone number on file, but again to no avail. As is standard practice, a notification letter was sent to the address on file to alert them that Jack was at the Camarillo Animal Shelter.

When Jack arrived at VCAS, his photo was taken and immediately published to the shelter’s website (which updates every 30 minutes) and to the VCLostPets Twitter page (which updates every 5 minutes) with stray pet profiles. A VCAS staff member also posted his information on the Oxnard Missing Pets Facebook page with the hope that his owner would find and reclaim him. Despite these efforts, no one contacted VCAS about Jack.

Consistent with VCAS practice, after holding Jack for 10 days, Jack became available for adoption to the general public and he was adopted on 6/16/18.

As a lifesaving organization, it is the goal of VCAS to reunite lost pets with their owners and find loving homes for animals in our care. Recognizing the strong human-animal bond that exists with our pet owners, we are deeply saddened by the set of circumstances that have unfolded.

We urge our community to continue using your local shelter as a resource as we are here to help; should your beloved pet ever go missing, please utilize the many options we have to help reunite you with your lost pet – contact the shelter to ensure your information is up-to-date, file a lost report via or our convenient app and visit for comprehensive information on how to find your lost pet.”

UPDATE – Thursday, August 23, 2018

The director of the Ventura County Animal Shelter said efforts were made to return a lost dog to an Oxnard family in June, but an outdated phone number was listed on the pet’s microchip.

In a Thursday interview with NewsChannel 3, Tara Diller said “Jack,” a West Highland White Terrier owned by the Fish family in Oxnard, was taken in by the shelter on June 5. The phone number and address listed on the embedded microchip were outdated and prevented shelter staff from contacting the family.

Holding a lost pet with identification for 10 days is standard procedure at the shelter. During that time, staff tried to call the phone number on Jack’s chip “three or four times,” Diller said. A photo of Jack was placed on the shelter’s missing pets page online.

Diller said the shelter explained the process when the family eventually learned Jack had been adopted to another owner in Camarillo.

Jack is not a registered service animal, but the Fish family considered him one because of the relief he provided to Alexander Fish, a veteran who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The family has not been successful in efforts to convince Jack’s new owner to relinquish ownership.


An Oxnard family is in a heartbreaking battle to get their missing dog back.

The family says Jack went missing back in June only to find out that a woman from Camarillo adopted him at an animal shelter, but doesn’t want to return the dog to the original owner.

Alexander Fish hopes to be reunited with Jack, his family’s West Highland White Terrier.

“I made him a dog house so he can have his own personal space,” said Fish.

“I asked for him my whole life and on my 13th wedding anniversary we drove to Denver and picked him up and immediately when we came home the family was in love with him,” said Mia Basurto, Alexander’s wife.

Alexander is a combat veteran. And while Jack isn’t a registered service dog, he still made a difference.

“He does have his days where he has really bad PTSD or he has just really bad days and the last two months has really affected the entire family,” said Basurto.

“There are days when I am so antisocial and unease that Jack is my only friend,” said Fish.

Jack went missing back in June. The family searched the neighborhood and posted pictures to social media. Two months later the family saw this.

“Someone put an ad up on craigslist saying ‘Can you help teach me how to hand groom my dog? He’s going to need a lot of grooming and I can’t afford it,’ said Basurto.

The photo was Jack.

“He doesn’t look happy,” said Basurto. “That is how he looks when he poops on the carpet and he is in trouble. It really broke my heart to see him on craigslist and see him like that because I know that’s the face he makes when he is in trouble or sad.”

Jack was picked up and sent to the Ventura County Animal Shelter. A woman from Camarillo then adopted him, but the family says Jack was chipped. The family said they never got notice he was found. Basurto says the shelter Supervisor admits the mistake.

“She took us outside and apologized and admitted that the shelter made a mistake not contacting us or contacting AKC before selling him,” said Basurto. “She said all she could do, because she legally owns him, because she bought him there, was to call her and plead for her to give him back.”

So far, pleading hasn’t worked.

“Him being gone has left a gaping hole in our life,” said Basurto. “I mean he’s a dog, but he’s also my youngest son.”

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