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AVHS Adopts Out Emotional Support Dog After Owner Hospitalized


Joey Martin had no idea he would return home to Portland without his Emotional Support Dog Max when the pair traveled north to visit Auburn. Unfortunately, after a medical emergency that’s exactly what happened.

Max, a German Shepherd mix dog, looking out the window of a black pick up truck
Max looking out Joey Martin’s truck | courtesy photo, Joey Martin

Martin was hospitalized March 9 for a medical emergency, resulting in the loss of his phone and wallet. Meanwhile, Max, Martin’s belongings, and his rental car were left behind at the Auburn La Quinta Inn & Suites where he was staying. Animal Control was called, and Max was placed in the care of the Auburn Valley Humane Society (AVHS). 

The La Quinta Inn & Suites and Animal Control unsuccessfully attempted to contact Martin. Neither were aware Martin was in the hospital as he fell ill outside of the hotel premises.


The [hotel] staff just said yeah, this guy just never came back, and here’s his dog,” said AVHS President and CEO Phil Morgan. “And animal control took it in as a, as a seizure, and then it’s a 72 hour holding period. And you know, we reached out to Joey uhm, we emailed him, we phoned him, we- every way that we had the ability except for you know asking the dog where he lived.”

Max is microchipped, but Martin was the only one listed as a contact person. “Please make sure that your microchip information is updated and that you have additional contacts involved with that, so it’s not just, it doesn’t just go to you,” Morgan said.

Missing Max

By the time Martin was discharged and able to purchase a new phone, Max had been adopted through AVHS. The shelter has a 72-hour holding period policy before animals become available for adoption. Max was adopted March 13.

Max, a german shepherd mix dog, looking upward at the camera, his head resting in the hand of an unknown person.
Max | courtesy photo, Joey Martin

“[It was] hard to face things not having him here,” Martin said. As his Emotional Support Dog, Max helps to mitigate Martin’s PTSD and anxiety.


According to Martin AVHS originally refused to contact Max’s new owner on behalf of Martin. He was told it wasn’t a part of the AVHS policy to do so. “I will say you know, I was so upset and kind of surprised by it that I wish I would of been a little bit more aggressive right from the beginning,” Martin said. 

Morgan confirmed AVHS did not initially reach out to the adoptee, but explained that it is generally AVHS’ policy to not contact adopters for a number of reasons. “Read what his post says, he said he contacted us. And we said, you know the dog’s been adopted and he went oh, okay bummer. And then my staff said, would you like us to take your name down in case it’s returned and he said yes absolutely. Yeah but we didn’t say there’s nothing we can do. I mean, we didn’t, we didn’t make the offer to call the adoptees no.”

Anyway, it generally is our policy to, to not reach out to the adopter,” Morgan continued. “A lot depends on, on the situation. You know this is a situation I think that was beyond his control. But, we’ve had some cruelty cases, and domestic violence cases, and a whole bunch of cases that the animal will come in and we won’t, you know there’s an ongoing investigation against the person and the animal will be released, [the adoption will go out.] But I mean, in eight years it’s been less than I can think of, two or three.”


Turning to Social Media for Help

After almost two weeks, Martin’s boss Andrew Moreland helped him share his story online. The March 26 Facebook post currently has over 4,000 shares and 600 comments. The next day, AVHS made a Facebook post addressing the matter.

“Please know that AVHS and the City of Auburn Animal Control are looking into the circumstances surrounding this situation. We are actively working on gathering ALL the information required to come to a legal and just outcome for everyone involved.”

Two screen grabs from the AVHS Facebook page, one announcing 'Maximus' was adopted on March 13, and the second of a A March 28 post from the AVHS addressing Joey and Max.
Screengrabs from the AVHS Facebook Page taken Saturday, March 27

That post and the post announcing Max’s adoption have both been deleted.

According to Martin, AVHS contacted him Sunday, stating they are “trying to contact the people that adopted Max as soon as possible.” 

Morgan shared that AVHS worked as an intermediary between Martin and the individuals who adopted Max, allowing them to discuss what happened. On Sunday an AVHS staff member picked up Max and brought him back to the shelter.

Martin and Max were reunited this afternoon and are on their way home to Oregon.

I just Want to Bring My Boy Home

Prior to Martin’s hospitalization, the pair had never spent more than five hours apart since Max’s April 2020 adoption from the Oregon Humane Society. Martin was Max’s last chance to be rescued, as he’d been adopted and rejected twice before. He worried about Max adjusting in a new environment without him. When he was first adopted, Max was a reactive dog with lots of energy.

“It took a lot of you know, just constant reassurance and making sure I didn’t give him the opportunity to have a bad interaction with another dog. That definitely worries me that, that I hope that he’s not experiencing that now because I’ve made a lot of progress with him over the last year where he hasn’t had a bad experience, and he’s met some other dogs,” Martin said.

Joey, an white adult male, and Max, a German Shepherd mix dog, together. Joey is crouch down next to Max on an asphalt path outside on a sunny day.
Joey and Max | courtesy photo, Joey Martin

Martin and Max have an active lifestyle that includes walking for 30 minutes, three times a day. Max would also ride along with Martin for part of his workday as a building maintenance and repairs contractor. 

“We’re really excited that the, that the owner found his dog. And that we were able to reunite them,” Morgan said. “We’re very thankful to the people who adopted the dog. Uh, that they were kind enough and compassionate enough to uhm, be able to uhm, give the dog back to Joey so he could live happily ever after with his pooch.”

Martin is grateful for the La Quinta Inn & Suites employees who held onto his property and worked hard to attempt contacting him while in the hospital, even going so far as to contact his ex-wife’s mother in an attempt to reach him.

Additionally, Martin clarified that the Facebook post wasn’t meant to vilify AVHS. “They definitely made every attempt to contact me, and they followed the law,” he said.

“I’m so thankful right now, and it’s almost overwhelming, feel like so many played a part in me getting back Max!” said Martin. “[I] want to let everyone know we’re back together and thank them. [At the] same time, I just want to bring my boy home and cuddle him. [I’m] just so happy he’s healthy, and we’re on our way home.”

Joey, an white adult male, and Max, a German Shepherd mix dog
Joey and Max after being reunited | courtesy photo, Joey Martin


To write this story, the Auburn Examiner interviewed Joey Martin, and Auburn Valley Humane Society President and CEO Phil Morgan. The Auburn Examiner also reviewed information from Andrew Moreland’s Facebook post, the Auburn Valley Humane Society website and Facebook page, and the City of Auburn Municipal Code. Auburn Animal Control Officers did not respond to a request for an interview prior to the time of publication. The Auburn Examiner did not contact La Quinta Inn & Suites.

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  1. Robert B Robert B March 29, 2021

    I think some thanks should go out to the family who adopted Max, and who willingly returned him to his rightful owner. It was a strange set of circumstances all around for sure. They didn’t have to return him, but kudos to this family (whoever they are) for doing the right thing.

    • KimG KimG March 30, 2021

      The article does say they are Very Thankful to the people that adopted Max and that they were kind and compassionate.
      Definitely a happy ending to this story!

      • auburnexaminer auburnexaminer March 30, 2021

        Yes, Joey has expressed his gratitude to the adoptee, Daniel, in an online post. The post was made after our article published.

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