It's a fixed law of journalism: Write about a dog in trouble and everyone demands a podium.
So let me tell you the story of Kali, a 5-month-old Siberian husky who escaped from her San Jose home more than two weeks ago.
At 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 7 -- by their account -- Kali's owners, Janette and Daniel Rubalcaba, let Kali into the yard to do her business at their home on Gridley Street, close to Penitencia Creek Park. She somehow escaped through a gate that was not fully latched.
Kali did not have a tag. She had not been microchipped or spayed.
When she was found about two hours later by Joyce and Joe Denzel in the park near the Berryessa Community Center, roughly six blocks away, she was suffering from a badly broken knee.
When they called the shelter, the Denzels say, they were told that an unidentified and wounded dog would be put down the same day. So they took the extraordinary step of putting up $1,500 for a vet's surgery that put two pins in the leg two days later. "I just thought we needed to give the dog a shot," said Joyce Denzel.
Unable to find the owners in an early call to the animal shelter and an online search by their son, the Denzels agreed to let her recover with a foster family approved by the vet.
Meanwhile, the Rubalcabas wanted Kali back. They put notices on Facebook and Craigslist. They put fliers up around the neighborhood with pictures of the dog with the spots on her nose. They called the shelter.
Several days later, they learned Kali had been found by the Denzels. With their young daughter, the Rubalcabas went to the Denzel home to ask for the dog.
By this time, however, Kali had gone to foster care -- and the Denzels refused to make efforts to return her.
The news perplexed the young couple. Daniel Rubalcaba told me he doesn't understand how the finders of the dog can make decisions about Kali's future.
"They didn't report her as a found dog," he said.
Perhaps inevitably, hard feelings arose on both sides.
According to Joe Denzel, the police showed up at his door at 11:45 p.m. to investigate a report of a missing dog. While he says the officers were polite, he acknowledges the incident bothered him. The Rubalcabas have said they asked for police help.
For now, Kali remains in limbo, recovering at the foster home. The Denzels say the foster family, whom they declined to identify, is preparing for permanent custody.
"Given all the unknowns facing this pup long-term, this is the best decision," Joe Denzel told me by email. "She is receiving wonderful care."
That is not, however, the end of the controversy. There are several points on which facts are in dispute.
First, the Denzels say the vet told them the dog's injury was at least a week old. In their minds, that raised the possibility the puppy had been treated poorly by a previous owner.
The Rubalcabas say Kali was perfectly fine before she disappeared.
The vet did not return my call.
Second, a disagreement lingers over whether the shelter would have put Kali down the same day if she had been brought in.
A spokeswoman for San Jose's animal shelter, Julie St. Gregory, told me the shelter's policy is to keep a dog for 72 hours unless it is "grievously injured." When I described Kali's injury to her, St. Gregory said she did not believe it would mean swift euthanasia for the dog.
Finally, each side is offering money to resolve the issue.
The Rubalcabas say they'll reimburse the Denzels for the surgery.
To end what he calls a bizarre situation that "has taken on a life of its own," Joe Denzel says he's happy to give them money for a new dog.
The Rubalcabas say they want Kali.
I couldn't reach the foster owners. But I did talk to a Southern California husky rescue expert, Scott Ski, who faults the Rubalcabas for not microchipping, tagging or spaying Kali.
Ordinarily, Ski said, the route for a finder is to take the dog to the shelter to allow owners to be located. But he agreed with what the Denzels say the shelter told them -- an injured and unidentified dog would be put down swiftly.
"The couple was very compassionate and wise," he said.
San Jose's animal shelter website, however, says original owners can reclaim a pet "at any time" if they agree to reimburse the finder for expenses.
Even after all this, I would hope there is a way for Kali to go back to her original home. The Rubalcabas are not perfect owners. And the Denzels arguably took too much responsibility on themselves.
But the generosity of Good Samaritans might just serve as a reminder of what any dog owner owes to a pup.
Contact Scott Herhold at 408-275-0917 or email@example.com.