Shelter wants money for lost dog's return

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A Missouri family said it can't get a beloved pet back from a local shelter. The dog named Bear went missing nine months ago but recently turned up at an animal shelter.

The problem?

The family said the shelter will only give Bear back if they pay medical expenses or adopt the dog.

“Bear is like one of my kids,” said Sheila Henkel. “If I would have lost one of my kids or they would have passed away or died that is what bear is to us.”

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Through tears Henkel said the two-year-old dog went missing nine months ago.

"The kids are pretty much not far from giving up. The oldest one has gotten so upset he's getting seizures and I can't keep getting him upset," Henkel said.

Henkel said Bear comforted her oldest son during his epileptic seizures. She said those seizures have become more frequent during the dog's disappearance.

“We’ve been searching on Craigslist,” Henkel said.  “Everybody keeps telling me Craiglist. The neighbor’s kids that know me and know Bear and play with Bear, they’ve been looking."

Bear turned up after a stranger found the dog and took it to PALS Animal Shelter. Henkel said the shelter’s president told her the dog was in rough condition.

“His blood count cells his red ones were really low. And he was really, really bald on his backend,” said Henkel.

When Henkel went to get the dog, she said she was turned away.

“I kept calling and a lady named Jennifer called me back and she's like Sheila she’s like you have to go through 'the process,'” said Henkel.

That process, according to Henkel, was either to pay Bear’s medical costs, which Henkel said may amount to $900 or to apply to adopt the dog. Adoption would require an application and approval process as well as a $180 fee.

“She said the way he came in, the way he looked, it was more than likely I wouldn't get Bear back,” Henkel said.

She claimed that is what PALS President Jennifer Bickel told her. So we went to the shelter to find out more.

Maria Hallas, Five On Your Side: “Sheila Hankel’s saying she doesn't understand why she can't have a dog back.”

An employee who answered the door shortly after 1 PM, said the shelter was closed and she could not answer any questions.

Maria Hallas, 5 On Your Side: “Did you pass along my message; have you done that?”

PALS Animal Shelter employee’s response: “I did, yes ma’am.”

We did hear back from one of the shelter's attorneys, Chris Cox. He said the dog needed life-saving measures and is still under a vet’s care.

We also spoke with the Missouri Department of Agriculture. A spokesperson there tells us that PALS may do what it claims it is doing. That is, after five days of holding the dog, it may either require an owner to pay "reasonable" medical expenses or go through the adoption process to get the dog back.

We will keep on top of this story to let you know how it develops. If you have any information that might contribute to this or another story, send an email to newstips@ksdk.com.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Henkel raise the money needed to get her dog back.