Should Obie be returned to Oregon Dachshund Rescue?
The story of "Obie" the morbidly obese dachshund has just gotten complicated.
An attorney representing Oregon Dachshund Rescue has filed legal papers in Washington County Circuit Court in Portland, demanding the return of the dog from his foster home.
Geordie Duckler, attorney for ODR, says Nora Vanatta has refused to relinquish him back to ODR, Inc. as legally required.
The story of Obie received national attention in August when the dog’s owners in Puyallup relinquished him. At that time he weighed a whopping 77 pounds and could barely get around.
A foster “mom,” Vanatta, who lives in Portland, agreed to take him in until a permanent home could be found for him.
Vanatta began a campaign to slim the suffering pooch down, and started a Facebook page called “Biggest Loser – Doxie Edition" - that chronicles his weight loss journey. He quickly began to slim down and has reportedly lost about 15 pounds so far.
“My hope is that he can be an inspiration to any person or animal trying to lose weight. It is so important to introduce pups and kids to a healthy lifestyle and food choices as early as possible,” she wrote.
Obie’s story was featured on the Today show, Live with Kelly and Michael, and other media round the country.
Now ODR is demanding that Vanatta return him, saying that she is not providing Obie with the veterinary care promised and required, but is instead “traveling across the country with Obie, exploiting him for the sensationalistic promotional value of his unusual obesity, earning money off of his public exhibition on national and regional television shows, and refusing to either provide the necessary veterinary treatment for his actual adverse medical conditions related to obesity, or to expend the monies she was generating from her public display of him on his actual health and well-being.”
The Washington County Circuit Court is being asked to formally order Obie’s return to ODR, and if Vanatta does not comply with that order, ODR wants the County Sheriff’s Department to seize him and deliver him back to ODR, Inc.
After receiving news of legal action, Vanatta posted on the Facebook page that “It is very upsetting that (the operator of ODR) is using doxie-saving money to take him away from me especially since she has received donations and support thanks to Obie and me sharing his story.”
"She clearly doesn't have his best interest in mind and is only interested in him now that he is famous."
Vanatta says Obie has made great progress and has bonded with her other pets and she is vowing to fight for him.
Supporters are rallying around Obie and Vanatta, and a petition site has been launched in an attempt to stop the legal action.
In a hearing Monday, a judge allowed Vanatta to keep Obie, at least for now, and said it was not clear if the dog currently belongs to Vanatta or the rescue group.
The rescue group said it will file paperwork, asking an arbitrator to study the case and make a custody recommendation for the dog.
Kathy Hessler, an animal law professor at Lewis & Clark College told KGW that the rescue group may have a hard time proving its case - especially regarding the alleged exploitation.
“Exploitation is a concept that we think of for human beings; humans who can be shamed and who can be embarrassed and used for somebody else’s end. Right now, unfortunately animals are property and they’re used for other people’s ends all the time,” she explained.