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Animal Law

Judge Says Obese Dachshund (77 Pounds!) Stays with Vet Tech, Nixes Dachshund Rescue Custody Bid

Posted Oct 30, 2012 1:41 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Video of Obie the dachsund put up by foster mom Nora Vanatta.

After a two-hour hearing, a judge in Portland, Ore., has nixed a dog rescue organization's bid to take custody of a grossly overweight dachshund known as Obie, who once tipped the scales at 77 pounds, roughly double his ideal weight.

Obie reportedly lost 15 pounds under the care of a former veterinary technician who took him in after hearing that an elderly Washington state couple who previously owned him had lost control of his eating habits. And he seems to be doing well with Nora Vanatta, said Washington County Circuit Judge D. Charles Bailey at a Monday court hearing. The judge declined to grant a canine custody order sought by Oregon Dachshund Rescue Inc., explaining: "I'm not convinced that at this point in time this dog is any more ODR's than it is Ms. Vanatta's, the Oregonian recounts.

Attorney Geordie Duckler, who represents the rescue group, tells the newspaper the case will now be arbitrated.

Vanatta's lawyer, James McCurdy, told KGW. "We've had a victory in getting the dog to be able to stay with the proper home and continue to receive the care and attention Nora's been giving it."

KATU also has a story about the ruling.

Earlier articles by CNN and KING, among other news organizations, explain that ODR sought Obie's return claiming Vanatta, who now works as an emergency medical technician, took him only temporarily in a foster home arrangement and is mistreating him. Vanatta, the group's filing said, is “traveling across the country with Obie, exploiting him for the sensationalistic promotional value of his unusual obesity, earning money off of his public exhibition on national and regional television shows, and refusing to either provide the necessary veterinary treatment for his actual adverse medical conditions related to obesity, or to expend the monies she was generating from her public display of him on his actual health and well-being.”

The Oregonian reports that ODR took legal action against Vanatta after learning that she flew Obie to New York for a September appearance on the Today show, contending that she put the dog's health at risk by flying him in the plane's cargo hold.

She has said the dog is healthy, aside from his morbid obesity, and has bonded with her other pets as she works to help him lose weight despite his difficulty walking and the stress that exercise puts on his body.

Further details are provided on a Biggest Loser, Doxie Edition page on Facebook that Vanatta used to chronicle the dog's battle of the bulge and a Daily Mail article. The newspaper links to a video in which Obie, desperate for a diet lunch served in a special dog dish that slows down his vacuum-cleaner-like eating habits, nonetheless chows down at top speed and licks the bowl repeatedly just in case there might be any leftover crumbs.

Vanatta also posted a YouTube video that went viral showing the dog's use of a ramp to get up a single shallow step when entering and exiting his home.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Student, 20, Charged with Theft, Original Owner Faces Abuse Probe In High-Profile Dog-Custody Case"

Associated Press: "Judge awards dog to 1st owner"

Corvallis Gazette-Times: "Biggs trial postponed"

Oregonian: "Dog theft trial delayed as Corvallis college student mounts a defense"

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