The Palm Beach Post is going to the dogs
For the second time in a month, The Post is featuring people fighting over a pet dog. As amusing or dumb these stories are, the paper is still delinquent on covering the missing Food stamp card story. The real priorities of my hometown newspaper are showing with every passing day.
Open Post- Bright & Early, Jo's Cafe, Basil's Blog, Is it just me?, Third World County,
DEERFIELD BEACH — Basset hounds are known tracking and scenting dogs. Fred, unfortunately, wasn't as true to his pedigree.
Last month, the 3-year-old pooch with the soulful eyes and sausage-like legs waddled away from his back yard where he enjoyed sunning himself and ended up at the Tri County Humane Society in Boca Raton, unceremoniously dumped in the parking lot, according to the center's chief executive, Jeannette Christos.
Frantic, owner Aline Leca said she put up posters all over her Deerfield Beach neighborhood, contacted the Broward County Sheriff's Office and animal control. She repeatedly called Quiet Waters Animal Hospital where, less than a month earlier, she had a microchip inserted into Fred so that if he ever did go missing, it could be scanned and they would be reunited.
Instead, the homeless hound found himself living with new owners. Boca Raton residents Evan and Rachel Gillespie, volunteers at the no-kill animal rescue center, adopted him less than one week after he was brought there.
Now, Fred finds himself at the center of a legal dogfight that pits the Lecas against the Gillespies.
Last week, the Lecas filed suit in Broward County Court against the Tri County Humane Society seeking Fred's return. Until Monday, the Lecas knew only that he had been adopted. Lawyers for the Tri County Humane Society claimed it was policy not to divulge the names of their clients. But during a court hearing Monday, Broward County Judge Steven DeLuca disagreed, ordering that the new owners be identified so that the dispute could be resolved as quickly as possible.
"If this was an automobile sitting some place, we would not be creating additional emotional fallout. But we are dealing with an animal and emotions," DeLuca said.
"Mrs. Leca is attached to Fred. He is a desirable pet because someone at the Humane Society snatched him up as soon as possible. We are going to do this quickly," the judge said, as Leca sobbed quietly.
Because the Gillespies' identity was not known prior to Monday's hearing, they were not in court. They did not return phone calls for comment.
The Lecas' attorney, Trip Bechert III, said the couple called his clients over the weekend and offered to return the dog if they paid his $800 veterinary bill.
"They have had the dog for 15 days and now they are playing games with the money. That is what is despicable," said Bechert, who added that he is handling the Lecas' case for free. "This is a woman who barely had enough to pay the (court) filing fee."
Christos claims that when the dog was found it was loaded with fleas and ticks, had dental and other medical problems and was not wearing a rabies tag. She said the shelter was only obligated to hold the dog for five days and that he was adopted on the sixth day.
"We are not a Holiday Inn," said Stacey D. Mullins, the attorney representing the shelter.
But Bechert provided a veterinary bill showing that the dog had just been in a few weeks earlier for all of its shots and said his clients must have cared enough for the dog to spring for the $50 to pay for the microchip.
"When he was here in November, the dog was quite clean and in good health," said John Silva, a vet tech at Quiet Waters Animal Hospital in Deerfield Beach where Fred was treated. "He had all of his shots and records kept up to date."
Also at issue is whether the Tri County Humane Society attempted to contact Fred's owners using the microchip. Christos claimed they called Quiet Waters but no one returned the call. Silva said the receptionist spoke to someone from the Humane Society and provided them with several contact numbers.
Bechert said the Gillespies can expect to wind up in court.
"We want them to return the dog to my client," he said.
"We can have a hearing about who is responsible for the vet bills down the road. For them to continue to hold him hostage based on that is unfair."