from this morning's Herald
A furry fight for custody
No money, no dog, says neighbour who offered to care for pet after house fire
By MARY ELLEN MacINTYRE Staff Reporter
Earl Shadbolt of Eastern Passage displays a new leash and dog cushion he bought for his pet. A neighbour has been caring for Mr. Shadbolt’s dog ever since his Eastern Passage home was destroyed in a fire last year, but now she is refusing to give the dog back. (TIM KROCHAK / Staff)
EARL SHADBOLT was shocked to hear that a notice of sale in Thursday’s paper featured his little mixed breed dog.
After learning about the ad from a reporter, the 75-year-old Eastern Passage man rested his chin in his hand and shook his head.
"I can’t understand what’s going on," he said.
Last April, fire gutted his house.
"I lost a lot of my possessions and the fire was just devastating," he said. "But I made it out with my cat and my little dog, Willie."
Unfortunately, his house was uninhabitable.
"The insurance company put me in an apartment, but the apartment wouldn’t let me keep the dog," he explained.
He said a neighbour who attends the same church as he does agreed to keep Willie, a six-kilogram, black and white terrier mix.
"Everyone thought Laura Naugler was doing it out of the kindness of her heart and I used to go and visit Willie and I’d take her flowers and bring treats for Willie — I thought she was so kind to help me out in this way," he said.
Ms. Naugler said she did agree to take the dog out of the kindness of her heart.
However, she said there is much more to the story.
"This really is a love story," Ms. Naugler said during a telephone interview Thursday night.
Willie and "a neighbour’s dog literally fell in love," she said. "They started connecting and they shared bones — one would get on top of the couch and roll the bone down to the other and it was so cute to watch them play."
Although Ms. Naugler said she intended to ask Mr. Shadbolt if he would allow the dogs to socialize occasionally, she said she didn’t get a chance to.
"After I gave him the bill there was no discussion of anything," she said.
Mr. Shadbolt moved back into his renovated house in August and asked Ms. Naugler to bring Willie back in time for his first birthday.
"I got him a brand new winter coat, a new bed and some treats for his birthday," he laughed.
He said Ms. Naugler refused to give the dog back.
Ms. Naugler said she called Mr. Shadbolt’s insurance company and was told they would be giving him a cheque for $1,200 and he would pay her.
Mr. Shadbolt said he offered the compensation.
"The insurance company said they’d pay $630 and I said I’d match that amount for a total of $1,260 but that wasn’t enough," he said. "She sent me a bill for $1,797 and it isn’t even itemized — I don’t know what it’s for."
Ms. Naugler said she was quite willing to give him the dog but she wanted to get paid first.
"He could have phoned and said look I’ve only got so much money but he didn’t."
Mr. Shadbolt said he’s had a series of small strokes and blames it on his distress over his dog.
When he sought help from police, he said he was advised it was a civil matter. He went to a bank for a loan so he could retain a lawyer.
The dog is supposed to go up for sale on Oct. 26, pursuant to the Warehousemen’s Lien Act, in the parking lot of 192 Wyse Rd. in Dartmouth.
Mr. Shadbolt said he has a date in small claims court in November. Ms. Naugler has been served with a notice of the court action, but said she still intends to go through with the sale.
"He can come and buy it if he wants — he needs to do the right thing," she said.
Wow! For once, words almost fail me. All may be fair in love and war, but in a province where there is an unending need for people to adopt puppies, what can this woman be thinking? In spite of the cliche, all is NOT really fair in love and war.
In a province where shelters and groups are constantly struggling to find good homes for all the puppies, no wonder the rescue community is abuzz with this story.
What time is it? While this only highlights how rare common sense can be ... it is definitely time for a sense of fair play