The end to this story will be instructive if nothing else. When the courts get involved, there is no telling what will happen.
A little backstory:
Piper, a champion Shetland sheepdog bred and owned by Victoria Covatch, was microchipped by her vet (but surprisingly registered only with the vet’s info not the breeder’s). The owner / breeder is in possession of an affidavit from the vet stating that she was the one to authorize the microchip placement in Piper.
Piper was also licensed in Pennsylvania by her breeder and obviously as a show dog is registered with the AKC under the breeder's name.
At some point in her relatively short life, Piper’s situation changed. The story gets a little murky here….
No one knows at this point. And it doesn't matter.
Because whoever had her in Ohio, for however long is irrelevant.
The only paperwork available demonstrating ownership is that which was held by the breeder. The dog legally resides in Pennsylvania, owned by the breeder.
Piper was then lost in Ohio (got out of the fenced backyard) and picked up very shortly (within hours of escape) by the local county animal control. They scanned her and found a microchip, called the microchip company and got the vet phone number.
Since it was the Easter holiday weekend the there was no access to vet records. The office was closed. There was no way to verify who that chip identified until that Monday.
The Franklin County Animal Control was legally required to hold the dog only 3 days, since any dog without a Franklin County tag around its neck is considered a stray.
KNOWING that the dog had a microchip which by most common sense logic would mean there is an owner, Animal Control decided not to keep the dog but to call the local "rescue" and release the dog on Monday morning.
The dog was taken out of the shelter at that time by the Central Ohio Sheltie "Rescue" person with the microchip info and vet phone number. She never bothered to call the vet to find out who the owner was.
Within 24 hours of that occurring, the breeder (and possibly other concerned parties) found out where the sheltie was and contacted the Shetland sheepdog rescue organization that had her. They requested Piper's return.
COSR (Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue) first ignored these communications.
Then they said they needed time to verify ownership.
The breeder gave as much info has they had to prove ownership, including the microchip info from the vet, AKC registration certificates and county registration from Pennsylvania and subsequently and affidavit from the vet regarding placement of the microchip.
This still did not satisfy the rescue group to relinquish the dog.
I have to ask, how much proof does your local animal control require to demonstrate a dog in the pound is really yours?
Since the rescue stated there wasn’t enough proof of ownership to return Piper the sheltie to the breeder, Veronica Covatch then offered to pay for DNA testing to prove the sheltie was the offspring of the parents the breeder still had at her home.
Then the rescue person’s position changed again, saying that while the breeder may have owned the dog in the past, she did not at the time the sheltie was lost.
The Shetland sheepdog rescue’s position now is that they own the dog and can place her as they see fit.
Oh, boy, oh, boy, oh boy! We got a winner here!
Here we have a breeder willing to take a dog back, pay for all expenses and she gets rebuffed.
Not good enough? Not good enough?? Really??
The latest position the rescue person takes is that the breeder has been harassing, bullying and is (let’s throw this in for good measure….) an unfit home. So it’s a no go.
Come on, guys! Veronica Covatch is not a backyard breeder. She is not a hoarder. She is a long time hobby breeder with a decent home and set up for her shelties.
COSR on the other hand is acting pretty odd.
The owner had to begin legal action. Off to court they go. The breeder posted a $10,000 bond in order to get the dog returned to them. The Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue turned around and posted a $10,000 bond in order to prevent that return.
In a day and age when rescues all over the country are SCREAMING about how IRRESPONSIBLE dog breeders are and how we don’t care about what happens to the dogs we produce, this is just a bit too absurd to believe.
Even if the breeder technically no longer owned her, why would you not want to get the dog out of rescue and into a decent home ASAP? The rescue had the dog only a matter of days, when she was located by the breeder. What’s the problem?
Why would you not want to give a dog back to their breeder?? Hmmm, make more money selling to a third party, do you?? Just hate breeders in order to feel... what? superior is some way? WHAT??
Personally I think it's a money issue. Just a guess, but retail rescue of dogs has become a booming business, this is more than a little troubling.
Oh, you don’t know what retail rescue is?
This is where questionable organizations do whatever they can to obtain dogs, including having them imported, stolen, whatever, in order to ‘flip’ them for a goodly profit.
While you and I try to do the right thing and avoid the puppy mills, and no longer buy from pet stores, the retail rescues get them, then paint such a sad, sorry story to suck people into wanting to adopt them and pay way more than the dog cost. These guys don't even have to go through the bother of breeding like a puppy mill. Just pick them up and flip 'em.
While we, the "evil breeders" of healthy puppies, get vilified for trying to produce good specimens. I... am... beyond... pissed!
There are stories of dogs being literally stolen out of fenced backyards as well. Dogs being picked up in Georgia and shipped to Michigan by the truckload to be sold within a few days.Yup, there’s big money in rescue these days.
This is getting scarier by the minute.
And legitimate rescues must be feeling the pain. Because trust for all rescues is going down the drain.
So what does this Shetland sheepdog rescue have in store for Piper?
Well, the rescue person is stating on her website that she will take adoption applications for Piper as long as the applicants are not in any way related to the breeder (or the “cyber-bullying” participants that upset her). She will make a decision at some indeterminate future time.
In other words, the rescue will re-home her, just not to the person that bred her. Really, how old are we? Three ??
I hope to hell she has no takers.
The National Shetland Sheepdog Rescue Network attempted to mediate to get this resolved to no avail. They have now cut all ties to this group.
We sit and wait to see who the courts decide own this sheltie.
And I am so afraid this little girl will mysteriously be gone by time the dust settles. Veronica may win but with no one to guard the rescue's behavior anything could happen.
Maybe the evidence will show that this breeder is the Michael Vick of Shelties and the rescue was justified in their position. Maybe this breeder doesn’t deserve to have her dog back. But somehow I seriously doubt it.
Bottom line, if she hasn't broken the law, no rescue has the right to refuse to return a dog based on their own standards. Especially since some of them are downright bizarre.
Meanwhile, my trust in any shetland sheepdog rescue has plummeted. Guilt by association. I know they never valued the likes of breeders before but now…. WOW!
Thanks, but I’ll be my own shetland sheepdog rescue organization (which is what breeders do historically), I already re-home my own dogs when necessary, and now I will take in any other homeless shelties whenever possible. The intent is to re-unite shelties with their families.
I’m pretty well done with rescues that say one thing and do another.
They are also getting absurd in their requirements for adoption, forgetting their roots, and feeling just a little too powerful, all knowing and holy to suit me. Their attitude to prospective families in a word, sucks!
As I have said previously in a forum, families that have been turned down by rescue come to me with some pretty absurd stories. And quite frankly, I would love to be one of my dogs lucky enough to live with them!
Time for rescues to clean house; starting with Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue.
What do you think?
Here's a news article if you want more.
UPDATE: COSR submitted their response on September 2, 2014. A court date for October 24, 2014 has been set.
UPDATE: Pre-Trial on Oct 24, 2014 postponed. Pre-trial December 11, 2014.
UPDATE: Trial set for March 12, 2015.