TIPTON COUNTY, Tenn. — For Tommy Ewing, the sight of the empty dog cage is almost too much to bear.
"I would really love my dog back. Romeo is my heart. He has my heart and soul, and he's my pet."
Ewing's 2-year-old Yorkie terrier managed to slip out a few weeks ago.
"I forget he's like Houdini. He can unlatch the cage anytime he wants to, no matter what yo do to him. I have to put a special lock on it to keep him locked in."
Romeo headed for the highway, but Ewing figured he'd turn up at the neighbor's house.
"He always make a bee line if the front door is opened," he said. "He wants to get out and he never comes back. He always shoots down the road."
A week went by and Ewing called The Tipton County Animal Shelter. He was shocked by what he was told.
"He's already been adopted out.' I said, 'What do you mean? He has a chip inside of him.' And they said, 'We scanned him twice. He didn't have a chip."
No one at the Tipton County Animal Shelter would go on camera but the manager says Ewing's dog was kept two days longer than the the mandatory three day holding period before a dog can be put up for adoption.
We're told the staff scanned Romeo twice, but a micro-chip was not detected.
They also said Ewing didn't contact the shelter until two weeks after his dog was missing. It appears Ewing didn't register the chip after it was implanted back in 2016.
His veterinarian in Ripley, Tennessee says it's the owners responsibility to register the micro-chip after it's implanted. That way the owner can be located if the dog is lost.
Still according to vet Kim Parsonson, the micro-chips ID number should have shown up under the scanner.
"Even if the owner would happen to go without registering. That number should be able to be linked back to our facility."
The manager at the Tipton County Animal Shelter says every attempt was made to find the owner of Romeo when the dog was brought to the shelter.
The shelter sees an average of 1,800 abandoned dogs and cats every year. And they say the make "every effort to find homes for them."