More Dog Days in Vermont's Supreme Court

March 17, 1999 12:00 am

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ACLU News Wire: March 17, 1999 — More Dog Days in Vermont’s Supreme Court


SOUTH ROYALTON, VT — The five justices of the State Supreme Court yesterday listened to impassioned debate over the fate of the 6-year-old canine, Billy, the German shepherd.

Almost two years ago, Billy broke her collar and ran away from her home in the town of Wolcott and was adopted from an animal shelter by another family.

Now, says Associated Press, Billy’s original owners — represented by the American Civil Liberties Union — are fighting the shelter in Supreme Court to get her back.

According to the AP, the justices thought Billy’s case was so interesting that they decided to hold the hearing at the University of Vermont law school so students could attend.

The court must decide whether Billy will stay in her new home or return to her original owners, Chasidy Lamare and Charles Arnold, who tried to reclaim her 34 days after she ran away.

A lower-court judge ruled against the couple, forcing their plea to the Supreme Court, Vermont’s only appellate court, said the newswire.

“If you lost your dog and you showed up to claim it and the persons who had it . . . refused to give it back to you for no valid reason . . . would you think that was right or wrong? We think that was wrong,” ACLU lawyer Clarke Atwell told AP.

According to AP, Billy’s saga began on June 3, 1997, when she was given to the Wolcott dogcatcher after she was nearly hit by a car. The dogcatcher posted signs around town. Nine days later, he gave the dog to a shelter, the North Country Animal League.

The Wolcott town ordinance says the dogcatcher can keep the dog, give it away or destroy it after seven days in custody. The AP reported that the ACLU is arguing that the town did not do enough to advertise the lost dog or allow enough time to pass to dissolve ownership.

Source: The Associated Press, March 17, 1999

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