Dogs ready for adoption, stuck at kennel

Now a story you'll see on just one station: Big changes underway because of our investigation for stray dogs from Worcester who are ready to go to new homes. Our investigation uncovered they’re “stuck” at a kennel—and cannot be adopted! Why not? Hank investigates.

They're adorable, they're healthy–and they're homeless–found on the streets of Worcester.

But right now–they're forced to live in cages at this kennel. There are families who want to adopt them – give them some love and a real home – but they’re not being allowed.

Jane Morgan found this stray "Lucky" shivering on a side street in Worcester. Officials told her to take Lucky to this kennel in nearby Leicester. She dropped the dog off and soon after, asked to adopt him. She was surprised when she was told No.

Jane Morgan, Worcester Resident: "It breaks my heart."

More heartbreaking, Lucky is now in this cage. And here's the shocker: no one can adopt him or "Logan" or "Snickers" or "Ariel" or "Honey" or any of these dogs!

Jane Morgan, Worcester Resident: "They're in need of homes and none of the dogs are moving, I'm very concerned!"

What’s going on here?

About a year ago, the City of Worcester hired this woman, Pat Dykas. She owns Barton Brook Kennels in Leicester.

The contract she signed says the city will pay her to handle Worcester’s strays and find them new homes. And that's what she did for a while.

Until the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture stopped her from adopting out these dogs.

Hank: “You have to admit right now it’s a mess."

Pat Dykas: "It is."

Massachusetts officials tell us what Dykas was doing with Worcester dogs was illegal because only non-profit organizations can place stray dogs with new families, and she doesn’t run a non-profit.

So last April they sent her this letter saying: "You may not continue taking in dogs… for the purpose of adoption."

That meant stray dogs could keep coming in–but unless their owner claimed them–they could not go out to new homes.

Hank: If you had been a nonprofit, the way the contract said, none of this would have happened.

Pat: No, it wouldn't have happened.

Hank: But isn't that you? Weren't you supposed to apply for it?

Pat: Well you know, had I realized it, I would have a long time ago.

Hank: Why didn't you realize it, if that's the law?

Pat: Well, first of all I wasn't aware of the law, it's a hundred year old law.

For a while, she moved the strays to authorized shelters, so they could be adopted–but last month, the state stopped that, too for fear enough wasn’t done to reunite lost dogs with their families.

So now more and more Worcester strays arrive here every week filling up the kennel cages. Dykas says she loves and cares for all the dogs.

But they all have to wait here while their potential new families get turned away.

Hank: So dogs that could be adopted, that could have loving homes, are in limbo.

Pat Dykas: Yes, they're being held.

Worcester City officials would not appear on camera but insisted they had no idea the state shut down the adoptions until we started to investigate. They admitted they never checked whether Dykas had the proper qualifications.

City of Worcester officials tell us they’re working on transferring the dogs to the Worcester Animal Rescue League. If you’re interested in adopting contact WARL and check back to our website for updates.

(Copyright (c) 2012 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)