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Thursday, February 2, 2006

A Dog Dilemma

Posted by on February 2 at 14:31 PM

There is a custody battle raging in Capitol Hill that would confound even a sage such as King Solomon. Except this case deals not with a baby, but a bulldog.

Here’s what we know, based entirely on the police report: The original owner of the bulldog became friendly with another bulldog owner in his neighborhood, based on their common canines. So when the one guy decided to move to New York, he asked this fellow bulldog enthusiast to watch his dog till he was settled in New York and could have the dog shipped. An agreement of some kind was reached.

(Unfortunately, the police report has redacted the names of the two guys involved in this dispute, their addresses, and even the name of the dog. If any are reading this, I invite them to write and tell us more about the situation.)

The original owner moved to New York in late November and in mid-January he emailed his dog-sitter to tell him to ship his dog. The sitter emailed him back to basically say, “It’s my dog now,” and he refused to ship it East. Apparently, during those two months he grew attached to it. Last week, the original owner filed a police report, accusing his former friend of theft. He placed the bulldog’s value at $1,700.

As I see it, there are three ways to settle this case.

A) The sitter deserves the dog because the original owner was guilty of neglect, allowing his dog to stay West for two months. If he truly valued the dog, he would have brought it East, no matter the difficulty. And besides, the sitter would have been feeding the dog, scooping its shit, cleaning its wrinkles (which get easily infected) for two months. At some point during that caretaking process, it becomes his dog.

B. The original owner deserves the dog because he bought it, licensed it, etc. And as onerous or unreasonable as the arrangement was, the sitter agreed to it, and even if he became attached to the dog, he has to honor the original agreement.

C. Call it the Josh Feit solution: Saw the dog in half, and give equal shares to both.

Seattle Police Department spokesman Sean Whitcomb (who assured me that getting information on this explosive issue was the most important task of his day, if not his career), says that detectives need to investigate the matter further, getting both sides of the story before deciding whether the sitter ought to be charged with theft or if the owner will have to pursue his case in civil court.

To borrow a line from The Big Lebowski: There are two detective teams on the case. They’re working in shifts.

CommentsRSS icon

Asking someone to watch your dog for two months while you move to another city and get resettled it not at all unreasonable. What are you talking about?

No, it's not the best thing for the dog, but sadly this option is far less common than something that is totally unacceptable: deciding your dog no longer fits into your life, then sending it to the pound.

This happens a lot to military families who move overseas, etc. When my family moved to Germany for a year as a child, rather than having our dog in quarantine for two (or was it six?) months, we placed it with a caring family who, fortunately for us, sent us regular pics and updates, accepted our payment for food and care, and gave it back to us when we came home.

At some point a line is crossed and it becomes pet abandonment, but that line isn't close to 2 months.

If this happened to me, I would orchestrate a dognaping and steal Bowser back.

(Don't you think "kidnaping" should be "kidnabing" instead? My AHD says the "nap" may have come from a variant of "nab.")

This seems rather open-and-shut. Dogs are property, the original owner's intent is clear, and he should get his property back.

Send the matter to the Peoples Court.

They will let the dog testify.

The term is dog napping. Quite offensive actually.

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