FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Before his adventures at the animal shelter, where he was stolen, recovered and later adopted, Freddy the dog had another life, according to friends of the beagle who came forward Tuesday.

The friends are campaigning to convince the Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Shelter or Freddy's adopted owner to give Freddy back. The animal shelter has held firm to its policy of not identifying owners of adopted pets because an exception could discourage others from adopting.

Friends say Freddy was the dog of Fort Wainwright soldier Sgt. Wayde Rozniewski for about five years. Pictures from this period on a Facebook page for Freddy show the beagle wearing sunglasses and an Army hat and playing catch with a flip-flop. Freddy waited for Rozniewski to come back from one overseas deployment.

But he ended up at the animal shelter during Rozniewski's current deployment to Afghanistan after the soldier's ex-wife left the dog with a friend. The friend took Freddy to the shelter in January, said Denise Katongan, a friend of Rozniewski who lives in Anchorage.

Katongan and other friends had been trying to find Freddy since then.

That became easier this week after criminal charges were filed against a woman accused of trying to sneak Freddy out a window at the animal shelter without paying an adoption fee. Rozniewski read a news article on the Internet about the criminal charges and recognized his dog. He emailed the animal shelter from Afghanistan, only to find that - after police returned Freddy unharmed - someone had legally and permanently adopted him.

Borough animal control manager Sandy Besser corresponded with Rozniewski by email Tuesday. She said it was difficult to choose what words to use when responding to his questions, because she felt sympathy for his situation. She also needed to tell him that Freddy's adopted owner is now his legal owner.

By shelter policy, she told Rozniewski, she could not identify Freddy's new owner except to say that he is a man whose previous beagle had died of old age and who is very happy to have adopted Freddy.

"If we were to do that type of thing it would be requested all the time and people wouldn't adopt from us," she said of the policy against identifying pet adopters. "When people adopt, it's their animal now. And, if they feel that it's potentially a temporary situation, people would be reluctant to adopt."

Katongan, Rozniewski's friend in Anchorage, said if she cannot convince the borough to give Freddy back, she is hoping Freddy's new owner will hear the beagle's full story and give up his new pet. She's planning to talk about Freddy on a few talk shows Wednesday.

"We just want this guy (the new owner) to get ahold of us," she said. "If he wants money so we can adopt him back, we can get some money together," she said.


Information from: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com