RED DEER, Alta. – A family in central Alberta is upset that an animal control operator adopted out their pet pooch that had run away while getting a bath.
    
Colleen and John Setter and their three teenage children thought they had done everything they could to find their missing Shih Tzu named Bert.
    
Bert got away without his collar and ID tag on July 17 when Setter put him and his brother Buddy outside to dry off after a bath.
    
The family put up posters and Setter phoned the Red Deer and District SPCA several times.
    
She says she was never told she should check with Alberta Animal Services, which provides animal control for the city.
    
An SPCA employee finally clued her in, so Setter called Animal Services only to find out Bert had been neutered and then adopted out.
    
Setter says Bert has been part of the family since he was six weeks old and everyone is distraught.
   
She says Alberta Animal Services has agreed to call the new owners, but they have indicated they need some time to think about whether to give Bert _ now named Koko _ back.
    
“I said I would pay the fees that the new owners paid, if I could have my dog back,” said Setter.
    
“We’re still in shock and devastated. We just can’t believe this has happened.”
    
Alberta Animal Services legally only has to wait 72 hours before an animal is considered its property. It can then be destroyed, put up for adoption or transferred to another centre.
    
That’s only allowed if the pet doesn’t have a microchip, tattoo or, in the case of a dog, a licence.
    
A representative with Alberta Animal Services declined comment.
    
Howard Thompson, inspections and licensing manager for Red Deer, said he believes that Animal Services acted within the guidelines of the city’s dog bylaw.
    
“Alberta Animal Services is trying to be intermediary with the new  owners or tried to provide other options for them,” said Thompson.
    
“It’s a very unfortunate situation.”
    
Thompson said the SPCA and Alberta Animal Services do refer to each other on their websites.
    
SPCA executive director Tara Hellewell said she hopes the family who adopted the dog will have a change of heart. She said she’s not sure what happened with Bert because typically the SPCA and Alberta Animal Services work well together.

Amy Corpe, animal care manager for the SPCA, said there is a seven-day waiting period before an animal is turned over to give owners time to reclaim their pets.
    
“We don’t want to adopt someone’s animal out,” she said.
    
“I would like to believe that this doesn’t happen very often.”