In dispute is a 45-pound husky. The original owner registered the dog and named him Chase. About 6 months later, the dog jumped over the fence. Hanson-Fleming went through all the proper procedures to report him lost including posting on craigslist.
Meanwhile, a young woman found the dog. She did not go though the proper channels to find the rightful owner before keeping the dog as her own. (She says she made various attempts, but did not report the dog.)
The original owner saw his dog and called to him. He exchanged information with the second owner and told her to let the family say their goodbyes. He planned on picking up the dog shortly after that. Instead, the second owner refused to give the dog back.
She is now claiming the dog is a service animal to wit he fetches her inhaler when she starts to have an asthma attack.
A distinctive black mark on Chase's nose helped Oswald determine that Chase and Bear are the same dog. (Oswald notes that the question of ownership could have easily and definitively answered if Hanson-Fleming had paid as little as about $40 for a microchip).
Oswald also found no evidence that Biggs followed Multnomah County animal code, which lays out a process that must be followed to take ownership. The code requires that the finder file a "found report" with animal services and publish notice in the newspaper once a week for at least two weeks. If no one claims ownership after 180 days, the finder can be declared the new owner.
In a written ruling emailed out late Tuesday, Oswald concluded that since he couldn't find any information "to indicate that (Biggs) attempted to find the owner," Hanson-Fleming is the dog's rightful owner.
Hanson-Fleming read the ruling on his computer, surrounding by more than a dozen friends and family members. He felt relief, but, he noted, "It's still up in the air."
Prosecutors could charge Biggs with a crime. Regardless, Hanson-Fleming plans to sue.
Biggs, however, is one step ahead of him. At 3 p.m. Wednesday, her attorney filed a suit on her behalf against Hanson-Fleming, asking a Multnomah County Circuit judge to deem her the legal owner. In her suit, she claims that Hanson-Fleming has "threatened to impair (her) full enjoyment" of "her own dog."
She claims Hanson-Fleming was negligent in allowing the dog to run away and says she followed Benton County animal code.
Biggs is also asking the judge to force Hanson-Fleming to pay her attorney's fees.
Do you agree with the ruling that it is the original owner's dog and should be returned? Or is the second owner the rightful owner?
Should Biggs get to keep the dog and get reimbursed for her attorney fees or should she be charged with a crime?