from this morning's Herald
Public picks up Willie’s scent
Support mushrooms for senior and little dog in canine custody dispute
By MARY ELLEN MacINTYRE Staff ReporterSat. Oct 17 - 4:46 AM
Free Willie seems to be the rallying cry ever since the story of Earl Shadbolt’s dog became public Friday.
The little dog lived a relatively quiet life in Eastern Passage up until a small notice of sale appeared in this newspaper on Thursday.
» See comments from Friday's story
Now the pup has his own Facebook site and legions of fans. Supporters have vowed to help the 75-year-old Mr. Shadbolt get his dog back.
"I can’t believe all the people who are calling me to say they want to help me get Willie back," Mr. Shadbolt said during a telephone interview Friday.
"He’s just a fine little dog — anyone would love him," he said, his voice breaking.
A compact terrier mix with a pure white body and floppy ears that are as black as coal, Willie turned a year old in August. Those who know him well say the six-kilogram dog has a winning personality.
Maybe a little too winning.
When Mr. Shadbolt’s house was gutted by fire in April, his insurance company paid for an apartment while his house was being fixed. The apartment didn’t allow dogs, so a neighbourhood woman, a member of the same church as Mr. Shadbolt, agreed to look after his dog.
He moved back into his home in August but the woman wouldn’t return his dog.
In an interview this week, Laura Naugler said she wouldn’t give the dog back until Mr. Shadbolt paid her more than $1,700 she claimed was for expenses and kennel fees.
That’s why the advertisement appeared in The Chronicle Herald, indicating a dog owned by Earl Shadbolt would be put up for sale on Oct. 26 at 11 a.m. in accordance with the Warehousemen’s Lien Act.
"I’m not a mean person. I’m a Christian and I believe in Christian love," Ms. Naugler said. "I was quite willing to take the dog back but I just wanted to get paid."
In any event, Ms. Naugler said, the dog has fallen in love with her neighbour Nora Landry’s dog.
"This really is a love story between two dogs," Ms. Naugler said.
She said the dogs played together all the time and they should stay together.
But during an interview Thursday, Ms. Landry said she had only looked after Willie on a few occasions. She said she’s only involved because Ms. Naugler is her friend.
"He owes her a lot of money and he got insurance money but he has not paid her," Ms. Landry said.
She denied that she and Ms. Naugler have been trying to persuade Mr. Shadbolt to give up his dog.
The sale is to take place in Dartmouth at 192 Wyse Rd., a complex that houses a real estate company that Ms. Landry co-owns.
For his part, Mr. Shadbolt is heartened by all the calls of support.
"It’s just so nice to know there are people out there like that who would care about this kind of thing," he said.
He even received a telephone call from a Montana woman offering assistance.
Annette Armitage of the Animal Rescue Coalition in Halifax has vowed not only to be at the sale but to accompany Mr. Shadbolt to small claims court on Nov. 10, when he hopes to persuade a judge to give him back his dog.
"This is just awful what is happening to this man — just awful and we will support him in any way we can," Ms. Armitage said.
Meanwhile, Cpl. John Stoddart of Cole Harbour RCMP said Friday he is continuing to investigate the evolving case.
"We talked to the Crown about the allegations and whether or not there could be enough evidence to justify a charge of theft but it was determined to not be in the public interest to bring this matter to court" at this time, he said.
The officer said he has notified Halifax Regional Police about the upcoming sale of the dog.
So let me get this straight, a woman wants money for an act of love? Hmmmm. Enough vestiges of my Catholic upbringing linger that it always saddens me to see people try to pull the Christian card to justify their actions, right before they do something particularly unchristian.
Yesterday's article mentioned that Mr Shadbolt felt that the stress of this situation had been the reason for the series of small strokes he has had since he has been unable to get his dog back.
If the small ad in the paper had not been brought to the attention of the animal loving community, the 26th would have come and gone with Mr Shadbolt being none the wiser that he was no longer the legal owner of Willie. Christian no ... sneaky yes.
The only upside to this story is the speed at which the animal loving community has reacted. Big kudos to Annette Armitage from the Animal Rescue Coalitions for lending the strength of her support and her voice to a senior who simply wants to get his dog back.
(The Facebook group can be found at Give Earl Shadbolt His Dog Back!, btw )