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Good Deed Goes Astray for Woman Who Found Lost Dog

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FRANKLIN COUNTY — You try to do a good deed by rescuing a stray dog who is dodging traffic on a busy road. But the act of kindness could put you on the wrong side of the law.

North Carolina law is unclear when it comes to who has the right to pick up a stray animal. After learning the story of a animal rescue worker, you may be tempted to keep on driving.

Darrell Johnson is thrilled that his beagle, Zandi, is finally home.

An animal rescue group in Franklin County found the beagle. Johnson called the rescue group after he saw a flier with a picture of his dog.

"The second thing he had to say was, 'It's going to cost you a lot of money, because we've had a lot of bills incurred,'" says Johnson of a member of the rescue group.

Tammy Faulkner, who owns the animal rescue in Franklin County, found the beagle.

"It's nice to get something back for all the work that you do," says Faulkner, who paid $330 to a vet to care for the dog who was pregnant at the time.

Faulkner asked the Johnsons to help pay the bill, but not as a condition of the dog's return.

Faulkner says Johnson told her, "You're holding my dog for ransom, I'm going to call the police. I want them back."

"Then, he threatened me and said, 'If we can't handle it the legal way, I've got friends that can handle it another way,'" she says.

Johnson denies that he ever threatened Faulkner.

"That's exactly what they implied to me, that I would not receive the dog unless I paid the fees," says Johnson.

The Johnsons called the Franklin County Sheriff's Office. A deputy advised Faulkner to return the dog or face criminal charges.

"Failure to return it to the owner, it amounts to larceny. Once he establishes he is the owner, you have no right to keep that dog," says Sheriff Robert Redmond.

"It's just disheartening to know that you try so hard," says Faulkner. "You pull her out of the street, you get her healthy, and you get charged with a felony for it. It's amazing that things like this can happen."

The sheriff's office says the best rule of thumb is to call animal control in the county where the dog was found.

In this case, Faulkner says she did call animal control She also put an ad in two local papers as she searched for the dog's owner.

Animal shelters are fighting an uphill battle.

About 4 million animals are accepted by shelters each year. Twenty four percent of the animals are adopted by new families; only 10 percent are reclaimed by their owners.

The top reasons why people give up their pets? They have to move, they have too many animals, they cost too much and the animals soiled the house.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Edward Wilson, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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