For those who are just joining the conversation, the dog in question who jump started the series of rants is the Champion Sheltie named Piper. She escaped from the dog sitter’s yard while the owner was at a National show in another state, and was picked up by the local shelter. They scanned her and found a microchip linked to the vet who implanted it but they failed to follow up to obtain the owner’s contact information. Instead, they turned Piper over to Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue (COSR). The owner returned from Nationals to discover what had happened and contacted COSR. She immediately provided proof of ownership in the form of registration papers and photos. One excuse after another was given for not turning Piper over to her owner and 15 months and tens of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees later, a court ordered COSR to return Piper to her owners but the case has yet to go to trial. Now nearly $170K in attorney’s fees and a year and a half later, the owner is still fighting TO KEEP SOMETHING THAT IS LEGALLY HERS. To add insult to injury, photos showed Piper was in worse shape when she came back from the rescue than when she left.
Surely this is an unusual case? Rescues find good homes for homeless dogs… why would they keep a dog that already has one? Rescues do absolutely wonderful work, but unfortunately there are too many out there that have their heads somewhere else and not only break their own policies, but sometimes break laws, in order to keep a dog that has a perfectly qualified owner. Here are a few examples:
Sassy, a senior Boston Terrier, was kept by a rescue despite the fact her owner had proven ownership and despite the fact a veterinary report showed that she was not neglected. She was dragged from state to state and finally placed with a new owner hundreds of miles away from her true home. People involved in the rescues lied about her condition, lied about her veterinary care, and finally lied about giving Sassy back in order to get him to sign her over “temporarily”.
Biscuit, an English Setter, went missing for several days and while missing he had been shot. Someone claiming to be his owner surrendered him to the local shelter. He was immediately transferred to a rescue organization due to his medical condition and status as an “owner surrender”. The actual owners contacted the shelter within 3 hours, proving their ownership of Biscuit. The shelter contacted the rescue to inform them there had been a mistake. The owners provided photos and offered to pay $3K to cover his vet costs. The rescue made multiple excuses, including claiming it was not the same dog (every freckle in the photos was an exact match). They shipped Biscuit to another rescue 600+ miles from home rather than give their dog back.
Chumpy, a Boston Terrier, escaped from the pet sitter while his owner was on vacation. She returned to find that the shelter had adopted Chumpy out to a representative of a local rescue who used their military ID to adopt him personally (there is no adoption fee if they present military ID), and then turned him over to the rescue to then find him a new home. The owner immediately contacted the rescue and let them know what had happened and that Chumpy was hers. He was a part of her family for years. The rescue ignored her pleas and then cut off all communication from her, finding a new home for her dog even though she desperately wanted him back.
Bobo, a golden retriever, went missing and was turned into the shelter by a local resident who found him only a mile from his home. Upon discovering by word of mouth who his owners were, that resident called the shelter to notify them that he had the owner’s contact information. It happened to be only ten minutes before the hold time was up, however the shelter has a policy that requires a dog to be held an additional 3 days if the owner’s information is known. The shelter ignored this policy and informed him if he didn’t get there by 9:00 am, the dog would be adopted out. He arrived at 9:02 am and the shelter had already promised him to another person. The adopter and the shelter both knew that the owners had been located but proceeded with the adoption anyway. Bobo had been in his home since he was 8 weeks old and when found he was freshly bathed, clean smelling, and in good condition, but the new owners said they’d “give him a better home”. They said they’ve been wanting a 3rd Golden Retriever for a while. Here was a beautiful one up for grabs, so grab they did. The shelter handed him over to a new home with the legal owner’s contact information at their fingertips.
This is just a very small sampling of the many cases just this year where rescues or shelters have shrugged off the fact that a found dog had a caring owner trying to re-claim them. Three of these were just within the past 90 days. Outrageous? Yes. All too common? Yes. And something needs to be done. Actually something IS being done…. Read on.
What happens in most cases of the “finders keepers” trend? The owners are unable to pursue a court battle to get their beloved family pet back. In most cases, the owners lose before they even begin to fight. How many people can take on a fight like Veronica is doing for Piper?
Let’s take a moment to remember Veronica didn’t “fight” for Piper, she “IS FIGHTING” for Piper. She is STILL fighting to keep a dog that is in every way legally hers. When I heard the legal fees could approach six figures, I was skeptical. Surely it would never go that far. My last article on the subject stated she had spent $135,000.00 and it was still going. I estimated maybe by the time it was done, it might reach an unbelievable $150K. Well I got an update, and the fees are nearing $170,000.00 (I confirmed this) with an estimate in the range of $250,000.00. TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS just to get a dog back that is legally hers! No one should ever have to go through this, and no one should ever have to go through it again. It’s crucial that this case is won and sets precedent, so owners have a leg to stand on when someone won’t give their dog back. With the decreasing supply of healthy purebred dogs available for adoption, and the increasing push to adopt from shelters and rescues, pet owners need to protect their rights to have their dogs returned to them if found.
Piper supporters have been following her case for many months. Many have been following since the very beginning. Due to the massive attorney’s fees, there have been ongoing fundraising events as well as ongoing pleas for help to support this case. At this point I believe many, including myself, have gotten numb to the message that financial support for the case is critical. Well it’s time to rip off the band aid and rough up the wound so we all remember just how painful this situation is, and how much more painful it can become. I got a wake up call the other day when I got an update, and I think we all need one. Let’s take a cold hard look at the situation.
We cheer Veronica on for standing up to Penny and for standing up for owner’s rights. We love her for doing this for pet owners everywhere. But let’s remember that Veronica is just like any of us. She’s human. She’s felt the outrage every day since April of 2014 and she stresses out just like anyone else. She doesn’t have the funds just sitting around to support a case like this. Who does? She has her own bills. She has a whole life outside of this case. She has a husband who is also affected by this. How would your significant other react if you took on this fight with the attached expenses? She has her own bills to think about, her sanity to think about, and her relationships to think about. We can wake up in the morning and check updates, not having to experience even a fraction of her stress, and when she wins in court, we can reap the benefits of legally strengthened pet ownership rights. But Veronica probably wakes up each morning wishing this whole ordeal were over and behind her.
Could she end it right now? Sure. Some phone calls and putting a collar and leash on Piper, driving to Ohio and handing her over to Penny Sanderbeck would end it. She would still be responsible for the attorney’s fees so far, and would know that it made no difference in the end since she and Piper would be back where they started from on April 22nd 2014. If the battle were lost, it would strengthen the ability of shelters and rescues to keep and re-sell dogs that aren’t legally theirs. It would weaken the rights of the owners above who stepped forward to re-claim their lost pets and were denied.
But Veronica’s not going to willingly end the fight. Could it be ended unwillingly? Yes. If she can no longer afford the legal cost and doesn’t have support from other pet owners to help her continue the fight. COSR would like everyone to believe the donations are more than covering her costs and Veronica is somehow profiting (???!) but I’ve confirmed it has only covered a small fraction of the costs, with the very LARGE majority, still weighing heavily on Veronica’s shoulders.
At this time of year, when there are many good causes to donate towards, why help to pay the costs so a well fed dog stay where she’s at? It’s a bigger picture than that. Who are you actually helping?
*Sassy’s owner is an Army Veteran of 19 years, now on disability and being denied his dog because the outside look of the home he rents doesn’t meet someone’s standards. He gave us 19 years to protect our rights and he’s having his stepped on.
*Biscuit has been with his family since he was a puppy. He is seen in photos with the owners’ son, who misses the family dog. The owner has photos of Biscuit participating in many family events. This may be their first Christmas without Biscuit.
*Chumpy had lived with his owner for years. He was an emotional support dog for her young son. He’s only a toddler, and at that young age, probably doesn’t understand why his dog is suddenly gone and can’t come home.
*Bobo has been with is family since he was a puppy. His owners include two young girls, ages 7 and 9, who will celebrate their first Christmas without him, and who have cried for months because he is gone. He was their only dog. Bobo’s new family, celebrates Christmas with a third Golden Retriever, because they wanted three and didn’t care about his real owners or the two little girls whose hearts they were breaking. This cruel move was facilitated by the shelter who could have given Bobo back to his owners that very morning.
Not only are the dogs uprooted and kept from the home and family they love, but their families mourn the loss of their pet and are left with an emptiness that can’t be filled. Laws have to change and the organizations that do not follow them, or even ignore their own policies in order to keep a dog from its owner, must be held accountable. The Piper case has grown into a bigger, more significant case than anyone ever imagined. Its outcome is CRITICAL!
Please support pet owners by helping Veronica win this case against a so-called “rescue” that felt justified in keeping her dog and making her fight tooth and nail for many months to get her back. The COSR director reportedly told an acquaintance that she would make Veronica pay, and pay a lot, to get Piper back. She has been stretching the case out for many months just for that very reason. She wants Veronica’s funds and her support to run out, while she pays nothing to her pro bono attorney to drag out a ridiculous case she knows she will eventually lose.
And she WILL lose, with the rest of the world standing up to this kind of behavior and complete disregard for our rights to own our pets and not fear they will be kept from us on a whim. She WILL lose, and a message will be sent to those who do not play by the rules and keep, when they should be returning, the lost members of our extended “family”.
To help with the huge costs involved in Veronica’s battle, follow the Piper story, share it, make people aware of it, and if you can, donate towards Piper’s legal fund.
For PayPal donations, use the address firstname.lastname@example.org (This is the correct account and the only PayPal account authorized to take donations on Piper’s behalf at this time)
Or visit the GoFundMe page at: https://www.gofundme.com/2cf3h98
And please share this message! We need the word to get out to get as much support as possible to win this case and stop this kind of injustice from happening again.
To read more on the ruling returning Piper to Veronica’s custody: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/07/24/punxsutawney-piper.html