DENVER -- Imagine the pain of losing a pet that has run away and never getting that pet back.
That reality is cutting the Harrison family deeply after their dog, Rocky, got out of the gate over the weekend.
The Harrison's said what happened next was unimaginable.
An employee at Rising Sun Animal Clinic told Denver7 Rocky was brought into the clinic after he was found following a woman and her dog around the neighborhood while on their walks.
The clinic employee told Denver7 she scanned Rocky’s microchip and returned Rocky to his registered address.
But the employee said that address didn’t belong to the Harrison's -- instead to an elderly woman who the employee said is battling cancer.
“They emailed me back and said, 'Oh, we've already dropped the dog off at the owners house,' and I dropped,” said Jessica Harrison.
The employee told Denver7 Rocky went missing from the elderly woman’s house over a year ago and was surrendered to the city of Aurora. The city then passed Rocky off onto another shelter before Rocky made his home at Foothills Animal Shelter in Golden.
Foothills Animal Shelter told Denver7 because the dog was surrendered and transferred from another shelter, it doesn't have the information for who surrendered the dog, and that Rocky was to be put up for adoption.
Denver7 has sent a CORA request to the city of Aurora to find out who surrendered Rocky to them in the first place.
The Harrison's said they bought Rocky from the shelter a year ago and have been calling him a family member ever since.
“What do you do as a husband and a father to explain to your family that our dog's alive and well, but we can't go get him because he's not our dog," said Michael Harrison.
While the Harrison's believe Foothills Animal Shelter should have done more diligent work in making sure Rocky didn’t already have another home, a shelter spokesperson said the shelter did in fact transfer the microchip information into the Harrison’s name, but the microchip company had a glitch that didn’t complete that transfer process.
“They didn't reach out to her when they took the dog, and then they didn't do the due diligence in the adoption process of transferring the chip over -- leaving now two families going after the same pet, both with rights to the animal,” said Harrison.
“We did provide the right information to the microchip company and we actually did talk with the microchip company. They said this actually happens more often that you would think,” said Jessi Burns, a spokesperson for Foothills Animal Shelter.
While both sides try to figure out who the rightful owner of the dog is, the Harrison's say this isn’t about getting money back for the dog or taking the dog away from the elderly woman, but more making sure something like this doesn’t happen to anyone else.
Denver7 reached out to the microchip company, which says it is looking into the case.
The company spokesperson told Denver7 a transfer of information on a chip can’t be completed before they can verify with the current registered contact information for the pet that the pet is in fact living elsewhere. The company reminds pet owners to make sure all of your contact information is up to date for the easiest return of your pet.
Foothills Animal Shelter told Denver7 it is committed to doing whatever it can to make sure both sides walk away satisfied in what everyone admits is a very difficult situation.