Kathy Vazquez, who works with an animal rescue group and fosters animals, was so outraged by advice she said she received Monday from a dispatcher on what to do with a lost puppy, she threatened to post it on social media.
According to Vazquez, her sister, who lives in Southgate, found the lost puppy wandering in the area of the Parkway Meadows Condominiums the night of Feb. 19.
Vazquez came over to help her take care of him and make some calls.
She said she called Southgate police that evening and was told arrangements would be made to come get the dog in the morning.
When she realized the following morning that no one was coming to get the dog she made another call.
“The dispatch lady was very rude and said if I couldn’t be responsible for him to put him back out on Dix,” Vazquez said. “I clarified, asking her if she wanted me to put a 4-pound Pomeranian dog out on Dix Road. She told me yes.”
She said she tried to give the dispatcher an opportunity to take the comment back thinking she would not like to see that on social media.
“She said, ‘sure, that sounds good, have a nice day,’” Vazquez said. “Then she hung up on me.”
Vazquez posted the exchange on social media, as she said she would.
Southgate police said her calls actually were answered by the Downriver Animal Control Agency which operates out of Wyandotte and handles calls for Southgate and several other cities.
The agency was called for comment and clarification, but it was not returned.
Holly Eggleston, and hundreds others, saw Vazquez’s post.
She is a member of the social media group Downriver and Friends and was so disturbed by the dispatcher’s idea of a remedy that she contacted Southgate Mayor Joseph Kuspa.
The mayor thanked Eggleston for bringing the matter to his attention.
“It is very unfortunate that the dispatcher provided inappropriate advice,” Kuspa said in a written response. “Once we were made aware of the situation our public safety director contacted Wyandotte. After management reviewed the conversation on the tape, a memo went out reminding all dispatchers on the proper procedure in such circumstances.”
Kuspa said when a call like the one Vazquez made after hours comes in the procedure is to transfer the caller to the duty command officer in the respective city where the situation exists.
From there, the command officer should work with the resident to either pick up the dog or have someone meet the resident at the pound.
“That is the correct way in which this situation should have been handled,” Kuspa said
He believes the fact that Monday being a holiday was a major factor in creating the confusion.
According to police phone logs, it appears all of Vazquez’s calls were directed to the agency.
Vazquez and her sister pulled out all the stops to spread the word on social media that a lost dog had been found.
Other members of Downriver and Friends not only shared Vazquez’s information about the dog, but were responsible for finding a post about a missing dog fitting the description.
Within about an hour, the owner was located.
It turns out the dog’s name is Rocco and Vazquez said she could tell right away that he was cared for and loved by a family.
The dog lives across Dix and was only a short distance from home, but Vazquez was surprised he wasn’t struck by a car walking into her sister’s neighborhood.
Many people on the Downriver and Friends site voiced an opinion on the situation, one calling it a “teachable moment” that will hopefully prevent a recurrence.
A few were not at all surprised by the dispatcher’s comments, saying they have been told the same thing in the past.
Both Vazquez and Eggleston were applauded for taking such care of the dog.
There also were those who appreciated Kuspa taking the time to address the issue.
Vazquez never considered dumping the dog on the street, noting that she has a kind heart, unlike anyone who would do such a thing.