GLEN ROSE, Texas - A Hood County family is suing to get their dog back after it vanished last year and was later adopted by a family from a rescue group.
To the Childress family, the fawn-colored Boxer is Tig. But to the Snyder family, his name is Bowen.
The dog is stuck in the middle of a custody battle after he escaped from the Childress’ yard in Glen Rose last April. The family says they searched shelters, rescue group websites, posted flyers and even filed a police report in case he was stolen, but got nothing.
“It was heartbreaking,” said Daisha Childress. “I was really nervous of bad things that could have happened, and my daughter and him were really attached.”
Animal Services found the dog, picked him up and transferred him to another shelter. That shelter then contacted Sharon Sleighter who runs Legacy Boxer Rescue. It connected the dog in July with his new adoptive family: the Snyders.
Seven months later, the rescue and the Snyders were contacted by the Childress family, who saw the dog on the rescue’s website and asked for the dog back before filing a lawsuit against the family and the rescue group.
“It puts every adopter of every animal that they could be sued in a similar case, which is not right,” said Sharon Sleighter.
The question is who legally owned the dog at the time of adoption.
The Childress family attorney says the Childresses did because an ordinance in Glen Rose isn't specific enough in how it transfers ownership once a dog is picked up.
“The city of Glen Rose ordinance, while it said they could adopt out a dog after a certain period of time, the ordinance did not specifically state that the owner lost ownership of the dog,” said Randall Turner, the attorney for the Childress family. “So, legally, Daisha’s family still owns Tig.”
“A shelter has the right to euthanize a stray animal after 72 hours, but yet they don’t have the ownership right to transfer that dog to another owner or to a rescue, per the reasoning in this case which is ridiculous,” Sleighter said.
The Snyder family pointed out the dog was not microchipped or wearing a collar when it was found, so they aren't convinced it's the Childress' dog in the first place.
But without an agreement, a judge is left to decide.
“If someone called me and told me, ‘You have my dog and I want him back.’ I would do that, but that’s not the situation here,” Childress said.
“It’s really scary to think you can go through all the steps to give a dog a home and save that dog’s life and then have someone come out of nowhere and say that’s mine,” Chad Snyder said.