SOMERS, N.Y. - Twyla has finally been returned to the Meeker family in Somers after a two-week ordeal involving lawyers to end a dispute with the Larchmont-based organization, Pet Rescue.
"We're ecstatic," said Gail Meeker, who gave her dog an extra long walk this morning. "She just came running over to me and she was jumping on top of me."
On Dec. 26, Twyla, a husky, was let out to play with the Meekers’ other dog under the supervision of Gail Meeker’s husband and son. Although the family has an invisible fence around their property, Twyla was able to get past it and run away. The Meekers tried to chase Twyla, but couldn’t keep up with her. The family then had to leave to attend a previous engagement.
While the Meekers were away, Twyla was captured by a neighbor who, after being unable to get in touch with the owners, called the number of the agency on the dog tag: Pet Rescue, where Twyla was adopted three-and-a-half years ago after the husky was abandoned in Virginia.
According to Meeker, a representative from Pet Rescue immediately came to the neighbor’s house to take Twyla, and after a brief chat with the neighbor, declared the Meekers “unfit” to care for their pet and has threatened to put Twyla up for adoption.
“Twyla is a beloved family member,” said Meeker, who owns the Yorktown fireplace repair business, Fire Glow Distributors Inc. Twyla has served as an unofficial mascot for the business, often appearing in the store and on their website alongside the family’s 13-year-old golden retriever, Ginger.
After an initial conversation with the organization on the day Twyla ran away — Saturday, Dec. 26 — Meeker said she left them several messages concerning how she could get her dog back. She said she didn’t hear back from Pet Rescue until Monday, Dec. 28, when the agency told her that the dog would be returned under the conditions that the Meekers construct a fence around their property, which the Meekers have agreed to do. But Pet Rescue told them little else about the whereabouts of their dog.
“The lack of communication is why we hired a lawyer,” Meeker said. “We don’t have any sort of knowledge about what’s happening with our dog or where our dog is, other than [Pet Rescue] telling me she’s safe.”
Pet Rescue Co-President Paula Krenkel said in a phone conversation that the agency was forced to take the dog after the Meekers failed to answer several phone calls from both Pet Rescue and the neighbor who found Twyla. According to Krenkel, Pet Rescue has relayed in multiple messages to the Meekers that they will return Twyla as soon as the Meekers install a fence on their property, which they have already consented to do.
“We will gladly reunite this dog with the family. They clearly love [the dog],” she said. Krenkel added that those concerned about Twyla should rest assured that she is under the care of Pet Rescue. “The dog is safe and well-fed,” she stated. Pet Rescue also denied that they had any intention to put the dog up for adoption. Krenkel explained that Pet Rescue’s highest priority is to find safe homes for its rescue animals.
“The last thing we want is to find one of our dogs dead or hurt on the street,” she said. For this reason, families are required to sign and adhere to contracts when adopting new pets. Terms of the contract specify that rescue animals must have a secure and supervised environment.
In a follow-up email, Krenkel said Pet Rescue's contract with adopters ends with a statement that if the detailed behaviors were not adhered to, the organization has the right to take ownership of the dog. The contract includes language that owners must not let the animal wander unattended. Krenkel also said that her organization did not steal the dog.
"We recovered a dog found roaming loose on a dark road at night," Krenkel said.
In her Dec. 29 Facebook statement, Meeker wrote: “We are taking steps to ensure [Twyla’s] safety– making arrangements for a fence so she can roam without us fearing for her bodily harm – but all we can get from Pet Rescue are vague promises that Twyla might be returned to us only if we comply to their indeterminate demands of a physical fence above and beyond our invisible fence to their satisfaction.”
Meeker acknowledges that she showed “poor judgement” by not sticking around to catch her dog.
“We’ll be upfront with everybody. Yes, the dog was loose,” she said. But Meeker remained adamant that Twyla be returned to her family as soon as possible. “Twyla is ours. We want our dog back.”
Meeker said that the morning of Jan. 5 was the first time she recieved written assurance from Pet Rescue that Twyla will be returned after the fence is built.
“It has not been easy to deal with this organization,” Meeker said over the phone.
Meeker said that she hoped to have Twyla back home by Thursday, Jan. 7, when construction of the fence was scheduled to be complete.
By Jan. 8, the fence had been built, but Twyla had not yet been returned to the Meeker family.
Krenkel said there was never any conversation about returning the dog on Jan. 7 and that she had only received confirmation about the fence on Jan. 8.
At 7:45 a.m. today, Saturday, Jan. 9, Krenkel sent an email saying that the dog had been returned. Meeker looks forward to resuming her normal routine of taking Twyla for twice-a-day walks on local trails.