Man, dog back together after legal adventure
CHINO VALLEY - Domino is back, and Kalani Kalaikai could not be more thankful.
On Sept. 30, someone took Domino from his yard, and the next day, dumped him in Cottonwood. Kalaikai, 64, away on a trip for 10 days, was devastated when he found out. Domino had been his companion for a decade, ever since he rescued the eight-week-old pit bull from a breeder who wanted to put the dog down because he was too small to be a good fighting dog.
The friend who had been watching Domino posted notices and offered a reward, but no one responded.
When Kalaikai returned home, he heard from another friend that a dog that looked like Domino was at Cottonwood's Adopt for Life Center animal shelter.
Domino had, indeed, been there, but due to a mix-up, the shelter did not find his tracking microchip, and let someone else adopt him.
On Nov. 4, Kalaikai received an email from the Central California Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CCSPCA) shelter in Fresno saying they were holding a dog with a microchip registered to him. Domino's new owner, they said, had been arrested in California and the dog was being held at the CCSPCA shelter.
Kalaikai thought it would be a simple matter to get Domino back, since the microchip clearly showed he was the owner. But that wasn't the case. The new owner refused to release Domino. It would be up to a judge to decide, Kalaikai was told.
"I was at wit's end," Kalaikai said.
Sierra Neblina, executive director of the Adopt for Life shelter made some calls. At first, she wasn't able to do much better.
"We felt horrible about the situation," she said on Nov. 18. "CCSPCA has been not responsive, and was not returning my phone calls. They have stonewalled me."
Neblina said she finally managed to contact the adoptive owner personally. "He just wanted to know the original owner was a responsible dog owner," and once reassured, he agreed to turn over Domino.
Kalaikai's next hurdle was getting to Fresno to pick up Domino. The disabled veteran, living on a fixed income, didn't have the money to make the trip.
But another Vietnam vet, Larry Gresser, stepped up after seeing Domino's story in the Courier. Gresser supplied Kalaikai with the funds to rent a vehicle, fill it with gas, and pay for lodging for the 12-hour drive each way, as well as meals.
"I am very thankful to him," Kalaikai said, noting that several others also offered their help.
When Kalaikai got to Fresno on Monday, Nov. 20, he right went to the CCSPCA facility. "At first they gave me the run-around," he said, "but when I said, 'I'm the guy from Arizona, here to get Domino," they started getting it together."
He was escorted into an isolation area, and started calling to Domino. "I heard a familiar bark," he said, "and there he was, shaking," in a dirty kennel.
Dog and owner reunited, Kalaikai got him home as quickly as possible.
Domino is not out of the woods yet, Kalaikai said.
Domino has been sickly and weak, and he's lost weight. "Before they (Adopt for Life) could adopt him, they had to vaccinate him." Then, (CCSPCA) "turned around and vaccinated him again."
"I talked to a doctor who said he could have died," Kalaikai said. "Too much medication could kill a dog."
Domino is doing better, now, although he is fairly still, instead of the active dog he was before. But Kalaikai believes he will be back to normal soon.
"If he could talk, he would have a story to tell," Kalaikai said, smiling.