PINELLAS COUNTY, FL. – A locally famous little chihuahua named “Diggity,” who was lost last year, has been lost once again.
And a non-profit animal rescue organization is suing the Humane Society of Tampa Bay– and Diggity’s adopter – for the little guy’s disappearance.
WTSP Channel 10 News originally introduced Diggity to the public last year when Largo homeless man, Nate Fasolst lost him while experiencing a seizure at a strip mall. Diggity was Fasolst’s service dog.
Diggity was found and returned to his grieving owner, only to find shelter at Pawlicious Poochies Pet Rescue after Fasolst died of a drug overdose, according to Pawlicious Poochies owner Jaime McKnight.
In Pawlicious Poochies Pet Rescue v. Emily Kyle, a breach of contract is described for Kyle – who took ownership of Diggity – for surrendering Diggity to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay instead of Pawlicious Poochies.
According to an exhibit of the lawsuit, Kyle agreed to return Diggity to Pawlicious Poochies, if for any reason the dog needed to be surrendered. But when McKnight conducted a spot-check on Diggity at Kyle’s residence, the dog was nowhere to be found.
“I stopped by with a witness and the contract,” McKnight said. “I gave Emily 24 hours to get the dog back. The dog was already at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay when we stopped by.”
McKnight said Kyle explained that Diggity – whom she had renamed “Chulo,” – was having sinus troubles. When The Free Press asked McKnight why Kyle wouldn’t return the dog to her to comply with the contract, she replied in exasperation, “Why do people do anything they do?”
McKnight alleges The Humane Society of Tampa Bay took Diggity and changed his Pawlicious Poochies’ ID microchip to most likely an employee’s name, as owner, without consent. The microchip manufacturer, 24-Hour Pet Watch, systemically seeks authorization from microchip owners if a dog’s ownership is requested to be changed. They never contacted her and are allegedly unaware of a microchip change of ownership for Diggity.
“I have to sue the Humane Society to get my dog back,” McKnight said. “They have the dog. They changed my microchip without contacting me. They just thought they’d get away with it. But I’d bet he’s dead.”
McKnight believes the Humane Society of Tampa Bay kills more animals than the public is led to believe.
According to its website in 2018, “The Humane Society of Tampa Bay has never claimed to be a ‘No-Kill’ shelter. In fact, we have been quite clear that we are a ‘No-Kill FOR SPACE’ shelter…This means that we do not euthanize an animal in our care in order to make room for another animal in need. We do, however, euthanize animals suffering from injury, illness, or temperament issues beyond our resources to treat or heal. In 2017 we attained a save rate of 92%; the percentage required to be considered ‘No-Kill’ is 90%.”
According to its 2020 annual report, The Humane Society of Tampa Bay achieved a 93% “save” rate for that year.
On its 2022 website, it indicates it is a private, independent animal shelter that is not an arm of The Humane Society of the United States.
The Plaintiff’s attorneys are Andrew J. Silvers and April S. Goodwin of The Goodwin Firm, Largo.