Copper is a female Shiba Inu.
Lori Goodlett told The State-Journal her pet of 11 years disappeared from her fenced back yard on July 3. It was after she put up posters that a police officer recognized Copper as the dog he had taken to the shelter. A shelter worker later called police and said it had to be picked up because coyotes weren't allowed there.
The department turned the animal loose behind a home improvement store after consulting with a wildlife expert who said coyotes were nuisance animals and should be returned to the wild or killed.
Humane Society board chairman John Forbes said he backs the shelter's decision.
"If our manager assessed the animal to be a coyote, then it is against the law for it to be at the shelter. We rely on the people who work there," Forbes said.
Goodlett, however, said she can't understand how her dog was misidentified.
"People would say when Copper was young, she looked like a fox with her pointy ears and red coloring," Goodlett said. "But no one has ever mistaken her for a coyote."
Frankfort Police Maj. Frank Deaton said the dog didn't have a collar or other identification. He said he doubted it was a coyote since it peacefully went with the officer who released it.
"Fortunately, the officer had the foresight to photograph the dog," he said.
Police and volunteers are helping Goodlett search for her pet and have set cages in hopes of capturing her.
"I know in my head Copper is gone for good, but in my heart I would like to think some nice family found her and took her in," Goodlett said.