Steamboat Springs — A Steamboat Springs woman is fighting to regain custody of a Siberian husky after the dog’s microchip revealed it was reported stolen in Canon City in 2013.
Ashlee Anderson, 28, said she’s had ownership of Sitka, a female husky, since September 2013, when she adopted it from a friend in Canon City, where she lived at the time.
Siberian husky Sitka is being held at the Routt County Humane Society while the dog’s original owner, from Canon City, Colorado, aims to regain custody of the dog.
Anderson said the dog had been in the possession of a homeless man for a few months, and when the man was arrested, a local animal shelter employee interested in adopting the husky took her home, in hopes the dog would avoid going to the pound.
“Everyone in town knew Sitka as the dog with the homeless man in Canon City,” said Anderson, who adopted Sitka from the shelter employee, who was a friend.
“I remember the night I received her; she was skinny and had awful breath. I laid down next to her and whispered that I would never leave her. She was mine, and I would care for and love her for the entirety of her life,” Anderson said.
On Wednesday, Sitka let herself out a partially open door in Anderson’s house in Old Town and was found a block away a few hours later.
“I don’t keep a collar on Sitka in the house,” Anderson said. “She got out, and animal control picked her up.”
Anderson said when Steamboat Springs Animal Control scanned Sitka for a microchip, the information led them to Canon City residents, who owned the husky as a puppy and reported her stolen in 2013.
Anderson said that Sitka was scanned by local animal control once before, in 2013, but officers found no microchip in the dog.
“They said technology has come a long way since then,” Anderson said.
Anderson was told by animal control officers that Sitka’s original owners plan to exercise their legal right to take the dog back.
While the case is mediated, Sitka is being held at Routt County Humane Society, and Anderson isn’t allowed to visit her.
An animal control officer contacted Thursday said she wasn’t able to comment on the ongoing case. An employee at Routt County Humane Society also said she was unable to discuss the situation or whether something similar has ever happened locally.
Anderson is working to gather evidence that supports her taking possession of the dog in an honorable way, in hopes law enforcement will side in her favor and release the dog to her.
Anderson, who was told by a veterinarian that Sitka is likely a purebred Siberian husky, acknowledged that the original owner could have spent a significant amount of money to adopt the dog, and Anderson said she’s willing to pay to keep the dog.
According to the American Kennel Club, Siberian huskies are the 12th most popular dog breed in the United States. The AKC marketplace listed Siberian husky puppies for sale at prices of $500 to $900 on Thursday.
When the husky was adopted by Anderson in 2013, she said the dog needed six months of heartworm treatment and had rotten teeth pulled.
Anderson said she’s asked the animal control officers to pass her information along to the dog’s earlier owners, in hopes they will be understanding of Anderson’s position and believe the animal wasn’t stolen by Anderson.
“She is not just my dog. She is my family, and our love and bond is stronger than this case. I know in my heart we belong together,” Anderson said.
Anderson, who owns a modest childcare business in town, said she’s also hoping to meet with an attorney who might help her pro bono to build a legal case, if necessary.