‘You need to leave’: Family reveals bitter confrontation with dog shelter

The heartbroken family of an adored rescue dog have revealed the traumatising moment their beloved animal was taken back by the same shelter that weeks earlier adopted him out to them.

One-year-old boxer Oakley was given a new start in life when West Australian mum Tania Wilson met and instantly fell in love with him during a visit to Swan Animal Haven, southeast of Perth, three weeks ago.

Shortly after their introduction, the shelter happily sent her home with Oakley and marked the exciting occasion with a post on its Facebook page: “Thank you… Tania for giving our beautiful and gorgeous Oakley such a wonderful home.”

But the happy moment was soon tarnished when the family took Oakley for a visit to the shelter last weekend so they could donate some toys. Without warning, they were forced to leave without him.

Ms Wilson’s daughter, Katelyn, drove her mum from Baldivis to the shelter, about 50km away, for what was expected to be a heartwarming full-circle moment.

After arriving, however, tensions simmered during conversations about where Oakley had been sleeping overnight.

Katelyn recalled the shelter becoming uncomfortable when they learned Oakley had been sleeping outside overnight, and her nerves flared further when a volunteer invited them inside.

“I thought, ‘something’s not quite right here,’ and I was a bit uneasy,” she told news.com.au.

“That’s when they said, ‘we want the dog back, you’ve breached contract, we’re offering you a full cash refund.’”

Katelyn explained she told them “no, absolutely not, under no circumstance are you taking him,” but despite her resistance, there was nothing she or her mum could do.

“They grabbed his collar, harness and lead, and brought those out with the cash refund, and said, ‘here’s your sh**, you need to leave,’” Katelyn said.

“I’m bawling my eyes out at this stage.”

She ran through all the luxuries Oakley enjoyed in his new home – a pool, sandpit, a bed in every room and many toys – but ultimately, she was wasting her breath.

The shelter, Katelyn said, was upset because it thought Oakley would be staying inside every night.

The daughter claimed her mum didn’t think there was any such agreement, but that the family’s eventual plan was for Oakey to sleep inside once she installed a doggie door for him – coincidentally due for installation the day Oakley was taken back.

“She just kept saying it was unreasonable and we had breached the contract, but I said the contract doesn’t actually stipulate the dog has to sleep inside,” she said.

“She just kept saying, ‘you’ve had three weeks to get a doggie door installed, this is not acceptable.’”

The contract stated that: “Haven reserves the right to remove the dog and will refund the purchase price” if the new owner doesn’t comply with the agreed “food, shelter and general comfort” conditions.

The duo insist they did not understand there was a condition he must sleep inside.

News.com.au made several attempts over multiple days to speak with Swan Animal Haven but all requests have gone unanswered.

The shelter has responded to a post on Ms Wilson’s Facebook page saying: “There’s a lot more to this story than being put out there. A lot more.”

No further details were provided.

The lengthy drive home without Oakley was understandably “really heartbreaking” for them both, Katelyn recalled.

“Mum just shut down, she was dead silent the whole time, completely shut down. Then she started crying,” Katelyn said, adding that her mum typically avoided crying in front of others.

After a brief period of hopelessness, the pair decided they would stop at nothing to get Oakley back. Katelyn appealed for help on social media while her mum pursued legal avenues.

They sought assistance from RSPCAWA and were directed elsewhere as the matter was concerning a commercial transaction.

They have since been in discussion with a contract lawyer, through legal aid, and have applied for an injunction to stop Oakley from being adopted in the meantime.

Katelyn said the whole family was shattered at the thought of Oakley possibly feeling unwanted and unloved after he was returned to his previous shelter enclosure.

“I feel awful for my mum but mostly I feel awful for Oakley because he must be thinking we gave him back up. My heart is breaking for him,” she said.

“He was just starting to come out of his shell. He’s just the most beautiful dog.”