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Attorney Appointed for Dog in Estate Dispute

Posted May 8, 2007 1:30 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A four-way custody dispute over a 13-year-old golden retriever became so intense that a Tennessee probate judge appointed an attorney as a guardian ad litem to represent the canine's best interest.

The dog, named Alex, was in need of a new home because of the suicide of his owner, Roy Callan Jr., 35, who left a $2 million estate, according to AP and the Memphis, Tenn., Commercial Appeal. After reviewing a report from the dog's attorney, Paul Royal, the judge in the probate case awarded custody jointly on Monday to Callan's divorced parents, who will have Alex for alternate two-week periods. A former girlfriend of Callan's, who had known Alex since puppyhood, and Callan's fiance also had expressed interest in taking care of the dog.

"At first glance, the petition seems almost frivolous, but after speaking with all parties, it is evident that this is a highly emotional issue for all involved," says Royal in his report, explaining that all four would offer Alex a good home but were battling over perceived past transgressions. "This case is similar to a bitter custody battle involving children where each party loves the children, but the kids are stuck between two people who cannot coexist," he wrote.

The focus of the case will now shift to dividing the $2 million estate. Callan reportedly had no will.

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