Exclusive: Woman who initially adopted OJ and Dozer wants to set the story straight
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The woman who adopted OJ and Blue Dozer from Richmond Animal Care and Control is speaking for the first time after the two dogs were reunited Wednesday night.
The woman named Colleen, who wanted to remain as anonymous as possible, said the story goes well beyond what is being said on social media.
"I'm very hurt," Colleen told NBC12 exclusively. "I would never do anything like this. I am not a bad person. My intentions were for these dogs to live a good life."
Colleen is referring to social media posts and other reports claiming she left OJ, a nearly blind dog, on the side of the road.
Shenandoah Valley Animal Services' interim shelter director, Tracey Meadows, said Wednesday that also was not the case.
"A citizen brought him in as a stray," Meadows said. "He had a collar on."
In a statement provided Thursday afternoon, Meadows went on to say, "There are several articles that I have seen myself, that have been screenshot and sent to me that are not accurate. [Colleen] is not who originally brought OJ to the shelter. For some reason, I think people thought she lived in Richmond and dumped him miles away, and that's how he showed up here. That's not true."
Colleen said she originally found out about OJ and Dozer via a website and went to RACC to meet them.
There she said they spent a good amount of time together, and also spoke with employees.
"I know our staff spent a lot of time with her, got to know her, her family, her situation," said Robin Young, outreach coordinator at RACC. "They spent a lot of time explaining the needs for OJ and Dozer. So when they left, we had hoped it was going to be the forever home."
Young said they explained to Colleen that OJ and Dozer were a bonded pair, an all or nothing deal.
"I'm not going to lie, they did tell me they were a joint pair," Colleen said. "But also during the conversation I picked up on some things that they had not been together their entire lives, etc. But I did not have any intentions of separating them whatsoever."
Young said to the staff's knowledge, OJ and Dozer had been together for a little more than three years.
"They are best buddies," she added. "OJ the blind dog relied on Dozer's companionship."
"Pets may be bonded in different ways," Meadows said. "I believe they love each other and are happy together, but I do not believe OJ relied [heavily] on Dozer to get around. OJ does appear to have some visual impairment, but he is not completely blind and gets along just fine."
Colleen said she had every intention of making sure the duo has a great home.
"I was interested in a friend of mine having them possibly at her farm where I would be able to interact with them and just give them a good life," she said.
What unfolded over the next few days is still surreal for her.
"I have people threatening my life, people stealing pictures off Facebook and adding things to them," she said. "It's unreal. I'm actually a nervous wreck right now."
Colleen asked a friend to watch the nearly blind dog after he nipped some people on the ride home Sunday to Augusta County.
"I was told that he bit that individual [as well]," she said. "He then talked to someone else that was looking out for him for a little bit until there was a decision made because I did not want to get rid of the dog," she said.
Colleen said she had no idea OJ was at the shelter until Meadows called her.
"When I first talked with her on the phone, she was going back and forth on surrendering him," Meadows said. "OJ had bit so she didn't feel comfortable taking him back home but also didn't want anything to happen to him.
"I was actually hesitant to sign him over," Colleen said.
Meadows said Colleen came in Tuesday afternoon to sign paperwork for OJ.
"She was very nice about the situation and confused as to how OJ came to us," Meadows said. "She had placed him into a temporary home until she could make a more thought out decision. She did not abandon the dog."
Colleen said she knew OJ and Dozer were a bonded pair when she adopted them, and did not intend on separating them.
Meanwhile hundreds of people on social media claim Colleen broke her contract with RACC.
"She didn't break the contract," Young said. "She definitely broke verbally what we had talked about."
When asked if the contract specifically mentioned OJ and Dozer as a "bonded pair" Young said it did not.
Out of the best interest for the dogs, RACC asked Colleen to surrender Dozer back to them.
"I was advised [through some other people] that by no means did I even have to turn the dog back over to them," Colleen said. "I willingly did that."
"Social media has had a lot of compassion, and anger about this situation," Young said. "We just hope now that we can move on."
Young said OJ and Dozer will remain at RACC for the time being, until the time is right to adopt them out again.
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