- Category: Pet Corner
- Created on Saturday, 03 November 2012 21:38
San Diego, California - The County Animal Services officer thought he was on a routine call to pick up a dog and two cats. He found the animals all right. But he also found a dead body. Suddenly his day wasn’t so routine after all.
The officer called the police. It turned out the deceased person was the owner of the three animals – and a homicide victim.
The animals were brought to a County animal shelter where Animal Services Lt. Harold Holmes took an interest in them. He handles special investigations for that department.
“Because the owner died, we took the animals in for the next of kin,” Holmes said, but the dog, a “sweet Jack Russell terrier named Jack,” did not adapt well to being in the kennel.
“The dog didn’t present well,” he said. “It was stressed and bouncing up and down.” This made it all the more important to get Jack to the owners’ next of kin. Jack would be hard to adopt out.
The problem was - the next of kin lives in Nashville, Tennessee. A San Diego Police Department homicide detective was in touch with the family and knew they wanted the dog. She contacted Holmes.
“So we wanted to see if we could get the dog to the family,” Holmes said. “Not just for the dog’s sake, but for the family. It’s an important piece of closure for them.” He and the detective began talking to the family, and developing a plan, but at first it didn’t work out because of some problems with an airline.
Then Holmes said if the family could wait an extra two weeks he would bring the dog to them himself. It turns out he had planned to go to Alabama at that time. His daughter, Heather, had graduated from the University of Alabama at Huntsville. Holmes was set to go there and help her move home. So County Animal Services kept the dog a couple more weeks.
Instead of flying into Huntsville as originally planned, Holmes flew to Nashville, rented a car and delivered Jack to the family. Then Holmes drove to Alabama. It cost him more money to do that, but “not that much more” he said modestly. The SDPD homicide detective had arranged for Frontier Airlines to fly the dog for free.
“I just felt for the family,” Holmes said. “They needed to regain what they’d lost of their loved one. I’ve lost people too. Anything I can do to help them feel better I want to do it.”
Holmes made a connection with the family in Tennessee. He brought his daughter to see them and Jack on their return trip. They were so appreciative of Holmes’ effort – and Jack was doing great.
“I saw a different dog. It was stressed and hyper when it was in the kennel. Now, with the family, the dog is mellow, very loving, very calm, a very different dog,” Holmes said.
After Holmes returned home he received a thank you letter from the family in Nashville – and a contribution to County Animal Services’ Spirit Fund which is an all-donation fund used to provide extraordinary medical care the County cannot pay for. He also received a thank you letter from the homicide detective.
Holmes was somewhat reticent to talk about the trip. He was insistent it wasn’t more than what other County Animal Services staff members do every day.
“I don’t think that what I did was that big of deal compared to what our kennel staff does every day. They go out of their way and get emotionally invested in the animals that come to us. They are the heroes. They are the ones who make our organization something to be proud of,” said Holmes. “They do a little extra on a daily basis that goes unnoticed.”