Some of the motorcyclists at FTM’s Bike Night have been following this story so I thought I would write about it.
I was enraged when I saw a News 12 and CBS News story on April 4. A Stony Brook woman, Linda, was hospitalized for diabetic neuropathy and came home four months later to find her dog, Luna a 7-year-old beagle-husky mix, in a shelter which refused to return her. The shelter owner stated on TV, “There is no way that family is getting their dog back.”
Linda’s son was told his mother would probably never return home. He was going to boot camp in the Navy and couldn’t take care of Luna, so he placed an ad on craigslist looking for someone to adopt Luna. The man who adopted Luna didn’t keep her and left Luna at a veterinarian. The veterinarian sent Luna to the Town of Babylon shelter and a couple of weeks later Luna was saved by a private shelter.
When Linda returned home, she started making calls to find Luna and within a few days found her at the private shelter. She went to the shelter and was told she would have to adopt Luna so she filled out the papers. But the shelter would not let her adopt her own dog because she had holes in her fence. Later, when the story broke on TV, the shelter owner stated, “There is no way that family is getting their dog back.”
I contacted Linda and offered to represent her for free. Initially, I decided to retain, at our expense, a lawyer who specializes in dog cases. There actually are lawyers who do that!
But the dog lawyer disappeared on me and I took over the case. Since my field of knowledge is accidents, I had to start learning about dog law.
After several weeks, I was unable to settle the matter so I filed a lawsuit in NYS Supreme Court against the shelter and a 15 page Order to Show Cause seeking a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the shelter from giving Luna to someone else and to get Luna back home while the lawsuit continued.
Of course, the defense opposed my Order to Show Cause and I had to write a Reply but I was now on a cruise in the Mediterranean. I wrote the Reply papers on the balcony. I should be doing all of my work there!
After I came back from the cruise, a hearing was held in court on the Order to Show Cause. I thought the judge might be upset about a dog custody case being in Supreme Court but after taking 20 minutes to read the papers the judge said, “This is a very interesting case.”
After the hearing, the judge granted the Temporary Restraining Order ordering the shelter not to adopt out or otherwise transfer Luna. The decision to return Luna would not be made until the final written decision on the Order to Show Cause, sometime in September.
While the decision on the Order to Show Cause was still pending, lengthy settlement negotiations continued and the shelter finally agreed to allow Linda to adopt Luna. I was at Linda’s home on August 5, four months after this ordeal began, when Luna finally returned home. She went right to her favorite spot on the couch!
Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is one of the Personal Injury Dream Team™ Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York; He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Franckel is well-known in New York for representing motorcyclists and created the motorcycle awareness campaign BE AWARE MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE®.