Katrina Victim Wins Court Fight Over Dog

Judge rules that couple can’t keep rescued canine they adopted.

Posted: March 15, 2007, 5 a.m. EST

A dog rescued from Hurricane Katrina will go back to the Louisiana woman who says she’s his rightful owner, rather than the San Diego couple who later adopted the dog, a judge has decided.

Arizona’s Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Whitten ruled March 13 that the dog, who was named Pablo by his Louisiana owner, then renamed Boots by his new owners, should be retuned to the first owner.

That owner is Paula Duming, who says she was forced to leave Pablo behind after the floodwaters surged after the 2005 hurricane.

“Unfortunately, no matter how this issue is resolved, a loving pet owner will lose their dog,” Judge Whitten wrote in his ruling.

According to court testimony, emergency personnel rescued Duming from the second story of her Louisiana home in September 2005, shortly after the hurricane struck. But she was not allowed to take Pablo along in the helicopter, so she left him with food and water.

Pablo was rescued later that month by the Utah-based Best Friends Animal Society and then later flown to the Animals Benefit Club of Arizona, who found a foster home for the dog with a San Diego couple in December 2005.

The couple formally adopted him the following month.

Representatives from Best Friends argued the dog shouldn't have been put up for adoption. However, the Animals Benefit Club and the new owners claimed that the dog wasn’t Duming’s dog.

But a key piece of information presented at the trial — the number on the dog’s vaccination tag and descriptions of the dog’s choke chain — indicated that Boots and Pablo were the same dog.


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Roberta   Wikieup, AZ

12/21/2008 11:54:24 AM

This pet was loved very much. By the first owner and by the second owners. But it needs to be with the first ones. It would take every ounce I have to force myself to leave my pets behind. I'm one of them that my animals come first before I do, but if you have someone that's insisting that they have to stay then you hope and pray that there will be someone there to pick up the where you had to leave off. I would fight for my pets also in a court of law.

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Sandi   Lake Milton, OH

3/15/2007 4:57:28 AM

Such a touching story, with someone loosing their beloved pet. No winners at all. But th dog does belong with the rightful owner.

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Marianna   bel air, MD

3/15/2007 4:33:32 AM

It is a sad thing when the rules say you can't take your pet. Katrina was a horrible disaster, but the truth of the matter is, the dog should never have been removed from the area of the disaster. I went to help after Katrina with Noah's Wish - organization that only mobilizes for disasters - and the reason I went with them was because they have strict rules about the animals rescued. We cared for over a thousand animals right there in Louisiana and stayed there until the end of November - giving folks as much time as possible to find their pet. Boy did we cry when there was a reunion - HAPPY TEARS - I know all of the organizations wanted to help, but removing animals from the vicinity is still causing pain to someone.

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