Bring Stella Home!!

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Imagine if your dog or cat went missing. You go to the shelter, file a missing dog report and hope that your pet is returned safely…. What if you later found out that your dog was adopted out to another family only days after your report was filed?


It is no secret that things have been a little chaotic at the Boone Area Humane Society (Boone, Iowa) since their previous shelter director was fired with no warning, and with the board having no known plan for a future director. Rumors have been flying about the safety of the animals in their care, as many employees quit after the firing. 

Marc and Kandi Riker are experiencing this chaos firsthand. Their missing pet wound up being adopted out by the Boone Area Humane Society only days after she was reported as missing.

 On September 16, 2012 the Riker family dog of two years, Stella, ran away from their backyard after supper time. The family looked all around, talked to the neighbors and had no luck- as they are in a rural part of the county.  Ultimately, the Riker children had to go to bed without their beloved pet. Due to the shelter’s hours, Marc Riker called the Boone Area Humane Society first thing the next morning and filed a missing dog report. Stella hadn’t been spotted, but Marc was assured that if a dog came in that matched her description, he would receive a call. After weeks,  the family had started to lose hope that their lost dog would never return. They were never called by the shelter, there were no sightings or reports from neighbors. The family had started to fear that she had been hit by a car or worse.  

A month after the initial report, while Marc was out with his sister, there was Stella sitting in someone’s backyard!! She was alive and safe!  As it turns out, Stella had been found  two days after she was reported as missing! After talking more with the elderly couple, Marc learned that the family adopted Stella from BAHS three weeks before- she had come in as a stray.

Immediately, Marc called the humane society and asked why he was never contacted when a white stray was brought in, as he was previously told that was the protocol. An unidentified worker at the Boone Area Humane Society, confirmed what the elderly man had told Marc. The dog was found 1/2 a mile from the Riker home two days after the missing report was filed, but said that Stella came to the shelter in bad shape- covered in cockle-burrs and had feces all over her.  Because of her condition, the shelter officials considered her to be a stray. The “found” report was dated September 19th.

Marc went back and had a long talk with the elderly couple about Stella and each side considered their options. Both families are great homes for her, but they both love her dearly and neither side wants to let her go. In the end, the couple left it to Marc to decide. Like any loving pet owner would do, he decided to bring Stella home the next day.  When Marc and his family went to get Stella, they were shocked to learn that the couple would not be returning her. The husband called the shelter earlier that day and was told by the  director that Riker never filed a lost dog report, and since Stella was adopted- she is legally theirs.

Confused and hurt, Riker, again, made a trip to BAHS and requested copies of the lost dog report that he filed, as well as the found dog report that was filed when Stella came in. One of the workers quickly made him a copy of the lost report when the phone rang.  Jane Elsberry, the BAHS board president was on the phone and told the worker that if Marc Riker came in not to give him anything, instead Riker should call her. After calling, Elsberry said that there is nothing BAHS can do for the Riker family. The dog was legally adopted out to this new couple and, per the shelter’s lawyer, they couldn’t discuss matters further. However, Elsberry did offer the family a free dog to smooth things over. Sadly, as it stands, Stella remains in her new home and the Riker family remains heartbroken, although, relieved to know that she is alive and healthy. 

So what happens from here? Does the new family have the legal right to keep their new pet- or do they part with their family member? Should Marc and his family be forced to give up any and all claims to their lost dog?

What would you do if it were your dog? 

And finally…. 

Should the Boone Area Humane Society get out of this whole thing guilt free?

Please leave your thoughts below as I am sure we all have our own opinions about this incident.

And, if you so choose, contact BAHS and beg them to bring Stella home! 


Phone: (515) 432-6112


** Check out the news story that WhoTv 13 later ran about Stella! **

This story has an important lesson for all of us. PLEASE microchip your pets! It is an easy way to ensure that your lost family member can find its way home!


For updates on the story, please like our facebook page

**UPDATE** I just received word from Marc Riker that Stella is home and safe!! The BAHS board voted unanimously to keep Stella in her current adoptive home (according to Jane Elsberry). However, due to the public pressure surrounding this ordeal, the new family returned Stella to the shelter and she found her way back to the Rikers. The family did have to pay all of the fees for a stray pet, including some vet bills because the new family went to get her spayed- although she already was. 

Throughout this whole ordeal, the Boone Area Humane Society never admitted their fault in this. 


**Editors note” the shelter refused to make a statement or comment on their story, per their lawyer**

0 thoughts on “Bring Stella Home!!

  1. Pat Baldes

    This could happen at our shelter also. I have been there when people were looking for their dogs. They were told by one person they should check daily with the shelter to be sure if the dog came in they would get it back. I have even heard at some places they don’t even take the time to check for microchips. Morally the older couple should give the dog back and they should be offered a new dog if the previous family had been taking care of their dog properly. Meaning vet records are available and had been groomed when needed. A dog like that can get in bad shape in two days I know from my own dogs. If they were allowed to run free they could get so dirty and look like abandoned animals. They have 2 years invested in her, the other couple one or two months. I’d be relieved she was found but also sick with grief from losing a family member.

  2. tuppertini

    BAHS is at fault. The dog needs to be returned to the rightful owner immediately. This is a complete injustice. How can that elderly couple sit back and be ok with taking a dog from little kids?

  3. mandy stevens

    I feel that the dog needs to go home. That’s her family. If the family is heartbroken so is the dog. The riker family had their dog for way longer than the new family. Just after a couple of weeks the new family wouldn’t love it as much as the rikers. Give the elder family a free dog. The humane society did this to my dad! They r known for these actions! It is heartless and rude! Give Stella back! Lets the kids have their dogs back!

  4. Lori

    I live in this town that this human society is in. The director that was just thrown out by the board would have never allowed this to happen. Stella would have been returned to her family. This dog was legally stolen from her family & given to another family. The family that adopted her should do the right thing & return her. Give the free dog to the elderly couple that adopted her.

  5. Judi

    Such a sad thing for the original family. If I had adopted the dog, I would give it back. I can’t imagine having that happen to me, so I would want to do what I hope someone would do for me. The elderly couple should be ashamed of themselves. Legal bullshit aside – where are their morals and ethics? The original family filed reports and were told they would be called. They weren’t called, so the shelter has a part in this and they should demand the new family give the dog back and give the new family a different dog.

  6. Sarah Muse

    I just want to say that if you are going to make a blog like this and post everywhere, make sure you are using the correct information. I am NOT the interim director, director nor did I talk to on the phone at any time. I would like my name taken off of this immediately as I have been in touch with my lawyer and you can NOT use my name in that way. Thank you

  7. BailingOutBenji Post author

    First thing is fist, Sarah Muse. This is the info that I for from an interview with Marc Riker. When I called your shelter the person who answered the phone said they were not allowed to discuss the matter per the lawyer. If you had any changes that were to be made, yesterday would have been a great time.

    Your last name has been removed on the article. However, it will stay in the public comments as you chose to contact me through here instead of privately. Any further discussion you wish to have can be done in private

  8. sarah muse

    Your information is still INCORRECT as I have personally never spoken to either of the Rikers on the phone. So please correct it once again. You need to have your information correct and your facts checked before you post things like this. Like I said my lawyer will be in touch.

  9. BailingOutBenji Post author

    Fine, Sarah Muse. Your name will be taken out of the article. However, you keep denying my offer to privately discuss the facts in the story. The facts as I know them. And if you read at the bottom.of the article, it says the shelter declined to make a comment. As in all articles, the story still runs if the other chooses not to comment.

    Again. I am available for private discussion on the matter.

  10. sarah muse

    I will discuss nothing with u in private as u have clearly chose to post a one sided blog before u bothered to check ur facts…therefore I don’t have to do anything in private as u have not taken ur own advice and also I will end this conversation by tellin u to take ur own advice once again and educate as u say is what should be done..maybe instead of slammin bahs n its employees…how bout u educate the public on how to avoid a similar situation happening by microchipping their animals or puttin any form of identification on them because facts remain…if this dog would of had any form of identification on it with owners information..then they would of been notified so how bout you get to “educating” instead of pointing fingers or acting like you know what is protocol at bahs or assuming it was not handled correctly because you my friend are not an employee therefore I don’t believe you have a right to say where or if bahs went wrong. Thanks

  11. BailingOutBenji Post author

    Have you not seen the news? This story is all over, it even aired tonight in the Quad Cities. None of those reporters work for BAHS either. Why not go to those comment sections and read what people really think of BAHS? I posted this article after an interview I had with the family, I gave the shelter the chance to make a comment and was denied. The article still ran, that is what happens in journalism. This blog is all about educating, and I have the fanbase to prove that. No, not all of them are volunteers at Boone, but many of them (myself included) are volunteers at other rescues and shelters. When I referred to “protocol”, it is because that is what Marc was told, not my own opinion.

    If you would have bothered to finish the article, you would have read the part about microchipping, by the way.

  12. marc riker

    Off and on in Iowa city visiting my mom in the burn unit where was my phone call from shelter i was promised

  13. marc riker

    Thank you all for all your support and mindi thanx again for this story so much good is going to come from all this even after we get Stella back

  14. Patricia Langhurst

    It is not clear to me the reason a decision was made to finally leave the dog with the elderly couple? I cannot think of any reason why the dog, once identified as belonging to the Rikers, was not returned to them. Did the elderly couple pay a large adoption fee? This is a terrible injustice. Another dog should’ve been offered to the elderly couple. The Rikers already owned the dog.

  15. Alicia

    There are a few frustrating parts about this story. Yes, the family should have microchipped their dog. However, the most upsetting part about all of this is the Humane Society not taking responsibility for messing up! You know how much easier this would have been and how much better this would have looked on BAHS if they just said, “wow – we really screwed that up and we’ll get the dog back”, offered the older couple their adoption fee back and the “free dog” they would be giving the Rikers.
    This is one of the biggest issues that Humane Society’s have. Not admitting when they were at fault and making their wrong a right. Instead, they tell employees not to speak to the people who lost their family dog. They lie about reports not being made. But – they won’t explain the situation to anyone who asks about it, instead they say “no comment” and then come on this blog and have a WHOLE LOT of comments bashing the writer.

    Sara Muse – if you or the people at BAHS didn’t have anything to say when they were contacted about the story before it ran, then you should really have “no comment” on this site. And by the way, working at a law office, like I do, I can tell you – you don’t have much to stand on as far as legal action against Mindi or this blog. A writer can only be sued for slander if the writer KNOWS that the story is false or if it can be easily verified as false. That is why a good blog author, such as Mindi, gives both sides the chance to tell their story. If you actually read the story (not sure that you did that well, considering your spelling and English is pretty horrible in your responses), it is stating facts of what has happened to this family, told to Mindi by the family. There isn’t one part of this story that is bashing you personally or that says anything that would be considered character assassination. She is simply telling the story that was told to her….and again – BAHS was given the opportunity to have their side heard. Instead, you have decided to come on a blog and look dumb by threatening legal action. And in fact, you are making BAHS look even worse.

    There’s a very simple solution that BAHS should have taken with this dog and hopefully, they can still right their wrong and swallow their pride and just do the right thing. Solution: The dog goes back to it’s original home, give the elderly couple thier money back and the option to come to the shelter and choose another dog. And give a SINCERE apology to the Rikers. Easy as that.

  16. julie

    I agree 100% with Alicia’s opinion above..The family should have micro chipped their dog but the shelter needs to right this wrong in my opinion..Mistakes happen every day. Fixing this one just really doesn’t seem that difficult to me..

  17. Lisa

    What is of utmost importance and should be the #1 reason anyone is rescuing/fostering/sheltering animals IS THE ANIMAL! #1: How is Stella’s best interest in mind when she isn’t even microchipped or tagged? And what else is missing – shots and other vet care? A secure, safe area so she can’t get out or coyotes can’t get in? #2: Should a young dog be adopted by an elderly couple? NO! Again, not in the animal’s best interest. #3: The Rikers, the couple who adopted Stella and BAHS have all done Stella wrong. Let me know when someone FINALLY does right by her.

  18. Patrice Brandt


  19. Lee

    Why would you sue the couple, when all they did was to adopt a pet through the shelter and give her all the love they could. This was done all legal through the shelter. This dog was very lucky that someone turned the dog in otherwise she would probrably be dead by nature or by being killed by car on Hwy 17. Even the Riker’s thought she was dead.The dog was at the shelter from Sept. 19th – Oct 2nd before the shelter put her up. It was also the Shelter that had the doy spayed not the couple. They took her to the vet to have her shots and to be check over being she was on her own for 3 days. I feel bad that the Riker’s lost one of their pets but I’m so grateful that the couple could give her a good home for the short time they had.

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