A California family claims a Siberian husky who recently made headlines after he was found roaming the streets of Ontario does not belong to the Arkansas family to whom the dog's microchip is registered.
Dawn Comstock, of Ontario, said her family purchased the dog, Liam, off a Craigslist ad in October 2014 before moving from Arkansas to California. After the dog was lost about a week ago, she was shocked too see news reports indicating Liam had been found and that his original owner in Arkansas was trying to get him back.
"My kids had cared for this dog since we had gotten him," said Comstock. "We were all devastated, and then to find out that they were claiming him back?"
The 3-year-old husky was brought to a shelter Jan. 13 after an Ontario resident spotted him in the street, according to James Edward, operations manager at the Inland Valley Humane Society. Shelter workers were surprised when they checked the husky mix's microchip and realized he was 1,500 miles away from his registered hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas.
Shortly after, Billy Payne, the dog's previous owner and the person to whom the microchip was registered, released cellphone video of his young daughters reacting happily to the news that Liam had been found.
Comstock said Payne had listed the dog for $75 on Craigslist but ended up giving her Liam for free because he couldn't get anyone to take the dog. She said Liam's microchip information had not been changed because Payne told her he couldn't find the required paperwork.
The Payne family, hoping to be reunited with Liam, said they didn't have the funds to fly him home — it would cost about $750 to fly the pup from LAX to Arkansas — so the Inland Valley Humane Society began accepting donations on their behalf.
"I was a little worried that we wouldn't be able to get him back and that he would be in Arkansas and there wouldn't be anything we could do," said Comstock.
The Comstock family took Liam home Thursday after his microchip was updated.
"Liam has brought our family together and I'm just happy that things worked out and that he is going to continue being part of our family," said Comstock.
Edward said this story is a lesson learned, and recommends all dog owners update their pet's microchip information. He added that the Payne family decided not to have the dog transported to Arkansas and was happy Liam would go back to a loving home in California.
Payne did not respond to a request for comment from NBC4.