Two people are squaring off for a legal battle over ownership of a dog

Multnomah County animal officials have determined that “Bear,” the dog Jordan Biggs of Corvallis has kept since last year, actually is named “Chase” — and he belongs to Portland resident Sam Hanson-Fleming.

Now Hanson-Fleming said he wants the 2-year-old Siberian husky mixed-breed dog back or else he will pursue theft charges against Biggs, a 20-year-old Oregon State University student.

Biggs, who had the dog trained to alert her when she’s about to have an asthma attack, has retained a lawyer to fight to keep the dog. Hanson-Fleming is just as adamant.

“If she refuses to give me my dog, an indictment will go through, and she’ll be facing theft in the first degree,” he said Wednesday.

For her part, Biggs had no comment Wednesday about the dispute, and her animal-law attorney, Georgie Duckler, couldn’t be reached by phone. At 3 p.m. Wednesday, however, Duckler filed suit in Multnomah County Circuit Court on Biggs’ behalf against Hanson-Fleming, asking that she be ruled the dog’s legal owner.

Multnomah County Animal Services Director Mike Oswald investigated the dog’s ownership under a county code that grants him the authority to settle animal-ownership disputes. Tuesday, he determined that Hanson-Fleming is the owner of the dog.

“After providing opportunity to both parties to submit information as to the ownership of the dog known as Chase,” Oswald’s determination reads, “I have received no information that disputes the fact that Mr. Hanson-Fleming is the owner.”

According to Oswald, Biggs didn’t respond to Multnomah County Animal Services’ request for proof that Bear is not Chase, so he made his determination solely on police investigations from Corvallis and Portland, and information provided by Hanson-Fleming. She also has the option of appealing the decision, Oswald said.

Hanson-Fleming’s dog jumped the fence and disappeared from his neighborhood in March 2011. The dog that Biggs said she found was about six or seven blocks from Hanson-Fleming’s house.

Hanson-Fleming’s efforts to find his dog about that same time were widely documented. He posted pictures on Craigslist, filed lost animal reports with Multnomah County Animal

Services and Oregon Humane Society, and hung fliers at local businesses. Though Chase didn’t have a microchip, he did have a collar with tags and a listed phone number at the time he went missing, Hanson-Fleming said.

In a May interview, Biggs said that she had canvassed the neighborhood, posted fliers, called local animal shelters and checked Craigslist and other websites. She didn’t, however, contact the Oregon Humane Society nor the Multnomah County Animal Services.

Hanson-Fleming said he has doubts that she tried to find the owner.

“If she’d have gone door-to-door, she would have come to our house,” he said.

After a while, Biggs figured the dog was hers, and she took Bear to OSU with her.

In an amazing coincidence more than a year later, Hanson-Fleming recognized Chase’s distinctive facial markings. The dog was in a vehicle that was behind him while he was idling in line at a coffee stand in Portland. It was Biggs and her dog, who were in Portland visiting family. She told Hanson-Fleming the story of finding the dog, and the two exchanged phone numbers.

Two days later, however, Biggs told Hanson-Fleming over the phone that she wasn’t giving up the dog.

Since then, Hanson-Fleming has been in constant contact with Corvallis and Portland police departments, Multnomah and Benton County district attorney’s offices, and the Multnomah County Animal Services — pleading with agencies to get him his dog back. He has called and emailed Biggs and her attorney, but he said that he has received no answers.

He expects the police to step up to the plate now that animal services has determined the dog is his. Multnomah County code states that found animals must be reported, and she didn’t report it, Hanson-Fleming points out. Though he considers Chase his child, for the purpose of the law, the dog is property, and she is guilty of theft, Hanson-Fleming said.

There are questions of jurisdiction, however. The alleged theft occurred in Portland, but the suspect resides in Corvallis. The district attorneys from Multnomah and Benton counties that have been in contact with Hanson-Fleming were out-of-town this week and unable to comment. However, discussions of jurisdiction could be seen in the Corvallis Police Department theft report.

A Corvallis officer writes that on May 17, a Portland officer informed him that the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office said the case is in the jurisdiction of Benton County and the Corvallis Police Department. The decision, she said, was made with the reasoning that “since the dog is in Corvallis along with the suspect, the case was (Corvallis police’s) to investigate and resolve.” Of course, Corvallis police said that “jurisdiction clearly belongs to Portland Police Bureau … with the assistance of the Corvallis Police Department.”

There also is the fact that Biggs said she has trained — and now relies on — Bear as her service dog.

In the same Corvallis theft report dated June 13, Corvallis police said that the investigating Portland officer, “believes the dog belongs to Fleming, but understands that seizing what now may be a service dog could cause addition issues for all involved.”

Police and attorney’s offices also will be discussing whether the dispute is a criminal or a civil matter, especially since Biggs filed a lawsuit.

(42) comments

Piper

It's time to do the right thing and give the dog back to its rightful owner.

econoline

I don't understand the question of jurisdiction. She admits she took the dog from Portland, what does it matter which county she lives in. I live in Portland, if I went to Corvallis and broke into her house, took her computer, brought it back to Portland with me and told everyone I knew that it was mine I don't think the cops would be discussing an issue of jurisdiction when they caught up to me...

Metaphysic

There is no proof that the dog is his. It's only his word that this is so. Let's face it, we've all seen lots of animals that look exactly like other ones.

"Distinctive markings" is not legitimate when one is speaking of most animals. And that includes us. Ever seen any of those celebrity lookalikes? Same thing. Identical twins? Same thing.

OSUDavid

He's got a lot more proof than she does. He's got plenty of pictures, evidence of when he tried to find his dog, which coincidentally were posted right around the same time and in the same area that Biggs found Chase in.

You can't just let her get away with this because she's a young girl and you feel bad for her. She needs to learn in life that you can't just steal someones animal, property, etc.

She has no evidence, other than her just saying she "tried", to show that she made any effort to find this dogs owner.

BEAR not chase

I find it funny that you are so hung up on her steeling this dog and haven't even mentioned the fact that Bear ran away and she rescued him. Hanson-Fleming was not being a responsible owner. There's a reason that Bear never ran away from Jordan. She took good care of him and gave him a job to do. Can't say the same thing for Hanson-Fleming. Also he didn't get a microchip so facial markings or not they can not be certain its the same dog.

IamIrene
IamIrene

I find it funny that you've never heard of a dog escaping their yard before. Could have been perfectly secure until the dog found a way to get out. And why do you assume the dog was running away from home? Do you know anything about husky breeds? THEY WANDER, it's in their nature.

Briggs did a wonderful thing taking CHASE in, but she is not exempt from abiding by the law...which does not support her position. Perhaps if she had followed the rules properly and taken the required steps to find the original owner WHEN SHE SHOULD HAVE, then she would not be in this admittedly heartbreaking situation. She could have spared herself a lot of grief had she done what was required, when it was required. My heart goes out to her, but she is legally and morally bound to return Chase to his rightful family.

OSUDavid

So if I understand you correctly, you are blaming Fleming for making every effort to find his dog after it got out? While you believe that someone who finds a dog wandering the street (who was last seen with ID tags), takes it home, and then just lays claim to it did nothing wrong? (and by your definition this is "rescuing", I consider it stealing)

Yes the dog got out, mistakes happen in life, apparently not with you though as you are a perfect specimen of the human species and your dog would never consider wandering off.

NotUrFool

Dog Missing on March 27 in the afternoon...... Jordan Biggs finds dog on same date with a collar and tags (Source biggs petition filed July 11) Jordan indicates these tags to have been on the dog since the day before........ Far as we know dog was out for less than 10 minutes before Jordan Biggs "found" it. Very possible dog would of return home had she not taken him. My dog use to break out repeatedly to go 8 blocks over a friends house who also had dogs. While we would hanging out there he would get out run around from the yard and knock on the front door to come in. The other dogs couldn't get out of the backyard yet mine managed as if to simply mock us. Good thing Jordan Biggs wasn't in the area I might of lost my dog too.

Integrity

Everyone, including Biggs herself, says that the dog is Hanson-Fleming's. And she has been told that the dog belongs to him and must be returned by county officials, as well as the police. The fact that you make excuses for her behavior is exactly the kind of thinking that is perpetuating this injustice and heartache for Hanson-Fleming's family. Chase had a collar and tags (Biggs told the police this), she did not call the number on the tag, she did not contact the Humane Society (he had his dog license tag on him too), she took the dog to Corvallis from Portland, and never attempted to find his owner. There are actually laws in place that she was supposed to follow, but didn't. Now is the time for her to follow the law and return Chase to his family.

BEAR not chase

I find it funny that you are so hung up on her steeling this dog and haven't even mentioned the fact that Bear ran away and she rescued him. Hanson-Fleming was not being a responsible owner. There's a reason that Bear never ran away from Jordan. She took good care of him and gave him a job to do. Can't say the same thing for Hanson-Fleming. Also he didn't get a microchip so facial markings or not they can not be certain its the same dog.

Integrity

Chase, not Bear, by the way.

OSUDavid

Also, I just read the article on OregonLive, and Bigg's lawsuit claims that "Hanson-Fleming has "threatened to impair (her) full enjoyment" of "her own dog."

She's also asking him for him to cover her attorney fee's, for the dog that she STOLE.

This girl is pathetic, she apparently think's shes entitled to this dog.

dickey46

She definitely messed up by not checking proper authorities. But he messed up by not spending $50 for a microchip. It would have settled the matter much earlier.

corvus
corvus

0.22 cal ammo is cheap, and would provide a solution for both parties' issues.

nocapes

No microchip, no proof. Microchip your dog if you love them. It is her dog. I hope she's microchipped it.

Integrity

Actually, it's already been proven that the dog belongs to Hanson-Fleming and Biggs, by the director of Animal Services of Multnomah. You can't just arbitrarily decide something. The dog had a collar and ID tags (phone and dog license) on him when she found him (read police report). What did they ever do before microchips?

Ajax
Ajax

He has by not assuring that the dog was contained and allowing it to escape that he is not a responsible owner...

Let her keep the dog...

IamIrene
IamIrene

Chase went home with Sam Hanson-Fleming today. Ms. Biggs has a trial date two weeks from now. All is as it should be.

Vox289

There was actually a more detailed article in the Oregonian yesterday on this. Among other things it specified how the Multnomah Co animal services director determined that it was the same dog. He used multiple vet records as well as numerous pictures provided by Hanson-Fleming. Apparently the dog has some distinctive muzzle coloring that was evident in photos from both parties. Even discounting the emotional attachment missing property belongs to the original owner. If you have your car stolen and 20 years later the police find it they still return it... It doesn't matter if the new owner has spent money or time on it. I took in a stray cat a few months ago that showed up on my doorstep. To make sure I could keep her I took her to the humane society. They said to have her checked for a microchip and to enter her in their found pet database with pictures. Also to put an ad on craigslist and hang up flyers in the area. As long as I did all these things and went through them after so many working days I could consider her mine if nobody came forward. The girl who found this dog didn't do that. As 'found property' it had to be entered into the humane society database to prove she used due diligence in finding the owner

Ajax
Ajax

It doesn't matter (to me) whether its his dog or not... He already has shown disregard for the dogs health and well being by not securing the dog in the first place.. None of this would be happening if he has been a loving and responsible owner....He doesn't deserve to get the dog back.

IamIrene
IamIrene

Likewise, none of this would be happening if Briggs had followed MultCo's polices about tracking down owners which include: 2 consecutive weeks of newspaper ads describing the animal, where it was found, and the finder's contact information as well as reporting to the animal services director within 5 days of finding the dog, and waiting 180 days before trying to lay any kind of claim to the dog (http://web.multco.us/sites/default/files/county-attorney/documents/ch13.pdf, Sec: 13.302), had she followed those policies she would not be facing the gut-wrenching reality that the dog's true owner has been identified.

She is not above the law, and good grief...you've never heard of a properly secured dog managing to jump a fence and escape? Dude...visit Youtube, there's thousand's of videos (http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=dog+jumping+fence&oq=dog+jumping+fence&gs_l=youtube.3..0j0i5.1221.4072.0.4187.17.13.0.4.4.0.161.1305.9j4.13.0...0.0...1ac.rx8gyWfJOn8).

Integrity

And I suppose in your world nothing bad ever happens and all goes according to plan always. A person can do everything in their power to secure an animal, and if they want to escape, they will find a way. People put collars and tags on their dogs for this very reason, so in case they escape or run off unexpectedly a good samaritan will call the owner and return the dog. That's what normal people do. Good people don't find a dog with collar and tags and take them as their own. Chase belongs with his family, and 99.9% of the population thinks so too (including law enforcement)

NotUrFool

Police showed picture of dog provided by previous owner to Jordans brother and he identified it as the same dog his sister has. Source portland police report May 15th

Snert

Give me a break. His dog jumped the fence... probably saw a cat or something. He didn't "allow it to escape." Should he have had the dog on a chain or stuck in a crate all day? He had a license on the dog. He went door to door, posted flyers, went to the Humane Society. SHE saw a dog she thought was cute and took it home. She is a thief, not some sort of puppy rescuer. I hope he gets his dog back, and I hope she goes to jail.

Ajax
Ajax

The fence should have been of a height that he could not have jumped over it...It was the owners responsibility and he took it and the welfare of the dog too lightly.

ReturnChaseNow

A charitable donation account has been set up to benefit Mr. Hanson-Fleming's legal fees that he will incur in order to rightfully get his dog back. You can go to any US Bank and make a donation to RETURN CHASE NOW CHARITABLE LEGAL FUND. All proceeds will go toward pursuing justice for Mr. Hanson-Fleming's family in getting their family member back. After Chase is returned to its rightful owner and legal fees are paid, any remaining donations will be given to the Oregon Humane Socieity. Any donation will help...thanks!

OSUSigep
OSUSigep

This Miss Biggs is a child. A self entitled overgrown child. In all seriousness, how do you get things so convoluted in your own head to the point where you can't see that on the most basic level of right and wrong that the dog simply belongs to someone else and the right thing to do - is give that dog back. Period.

Integrity

It is astonishing, isn't it? And her behavior and that of her family is downright frightening.

Metaphysic

Distinctive markings is a fallacy.

There is not a shred of proof that Bear is Chase. Given time, I could find 2 other dogs that look identical and fool both owners.

Anyone making the case that his dog got out and she found it just made a huge assumption that is unsupported by facts. The interests of the two people are normal - both want to keep a valued pet. But to take the dog from her to give it to him means proving beyond a doubt that it's the same dog. They haven't even come close to that.

OSUDavid

How is it a huge assumption, I'm not sure if you didn't read the story but, let me point out a line you may have missed:

"The dog that Biggs said she found was about six or seven blocks from Hanson-Fleming’s house"

Really??? So she found a dog that looks exactly the same, 6 or 7 blocks away from his house, right around the same time this his dog went missing. I agree with OSUSigep on this one, she is a self entitle overgrown child.

Karma will come around for her sooner or later.

NotUrFool

Dog came when called by original name chase......... Jordan Biggs own brother identified dog in sisters care as being same in pictures provide by original owner. Then there is DNA if need be. Original owner has indicated he knows where a dog from same litter is. So actually there is proof not that it is needed, identity has never been in question. Only rights of ownership

Integrity

Biggs herself agrees that the dog she has is indeed Chase. Have you read the articles and police reports? It's all there.....

ThinkAboutIt

This is a sad story for both parties but in the end the rightful owner should get his dog back. Common sense tells you that the dog Briggs found was the same dog Fleming lost. The dog was lost and found in the same area at the same time. What are the odds that two similar dogs in breed, age,and markings get lost at the same time? Add to the fact that Briggs didn't follow the law when she found the dog and she loses her legal standing. Even if you argue that it is a different dog Briggs still broke the law and should not be able to keep the dog. I wouldn't go as far as some people calling her a thief. She is not. She is clearly not the legal owner of the dog though.

Fleming is also not a negligent owner for his dog getting out either. I am willing to guess that 95% of dog owners have experienced a dog getting away before. Of course, I have no proof to make up my guess but that is why it is a guess and not a fact.

aam10

I'm less sympathetic to an owner who didn't neuter his dog. Might be because I'm an Oregon native who now lives in the South--loose dogs (and other pets, most of them unwanted) is a huge problem in this part of the country, much more so than any other region. My vet runs a small rescue in addition to her practice, and she and her vet techs have to take a whole bunch of dogs up to the northeast every other month or so because we are so inundated with unwanted animals here. I'm so tired of going to the shelter and seeing huge litters of puppies that someone just left somewhere to be picked up by animal control. Unless you're a licensed breeder, spaying and neutering your pets is your responsibility.

That said, I have 3 dogs of my own, and I would be devastated if I were in Hanson-Fleming's position. I believe he should get Chase back, but I also think he should pay Biggs for the cost of neutering, vaccination, and microchipping.

Fishwrapper
Fishwrapper

Some folks keep their dogs in tact for future plans that involve a new generation of dogs. If (and I do say IF, but since a lot of hypothetical items have been bandied about in the comments for this story, I might as well throw in my $.02) this is the case, than Biggs could be on the hook for damages.

Of course, I am just throwing down an opinion that may or may not carry water once the full facts and outcome of the case become known. If they ever can...

With best regards,

Will Overhead, 33
The Fishwrapper

econoline

Why should he pay her, that is like saying if someone steals your car and installs leather seats and a turbocharger that you should pay them for the upgrades.

aam10

It's not like that at all, actually. If his dog is indeed his family member, as he stated, neutering and vaccinating him is part of being a responsible owner. He should have done so when Chase was still in his care. I don't think a car is really comparable.

NotUrFool

there is no law against not neutering. So while many feel he should(myself included) he is not required to. Having said that I cannot help but point out that his dog is now not whole as it has been altered. His property has been damaged from its original condition........ vandalized

MarkinKS

Lots of great comments here. On castrating dogs, I don't know if I can agree. I've owned AKC champion-lineage purebreds and mutts. Almost all have been great companions. Who deserves to reproduce? Castration (neutering) reduces roaming urges, and alpha-male dominance exercises. It also leads to weight gain, and reduced lifespans. It's definitely a plus/minus proposition.

I remember jogging in Dunthorpe, and a non-neutered Chessie challenged me. Kind of scary, but I stood him down. He then ran off, and I heard a commotion in the woods. He appeared with a 15-foot sapling, 2 inch trunk, and he presented me the thin end. I understood what he wanted. I grasped the tree with a thicker-trunk purchase, and we battled to win the tree. I won. I had an advantage, because when he clamped down, I could out-twist him. Round one, me. Round two, three, four , five, six, me. Each victory, I'd jjavelin it, and he's pick it up, and challenge me again. We beame friends. He learned who the top-dog-alpha male was.

I was at the time satying with Steve Kimberly. He put me in an attic room on an unmade matress. I learned it was his German Shephard's bed. She was possessive of her bed. I don't know if you've ever invaded a German shepherd's bed, but it's a little tricky. She eventually learned, "This is my side, that's your side. And if you want to put your arm on me when we're sleeping I love to be cuddled up to. I don't know why my owners send me up here, because I really want to sleep with them, .I don't want to sleep alone."

I don't know the Hanson vs. Briggs legal case. Hanson got to take Chase to work, Briggs got a service dog vest so che could take "Bear" everywhere. Take-home lesson for me: rhis is a dog people want to be with, and there are two people who really like being with a great dog. Mr. Hanson left Chase and Chase ran. But as a former Siberian/Wolf hybrid owner, I can tell you, if you are there, they aren't going to roam. If you leave them, these huskies will roam. They love companionship. We used to hike down the Rogue, he loved it. When I stopped to fish, he laid down. Back home, he escaped. Why? Because nobody was around. He craved companionship.

Miss Briggs did a fascinating thing, getting Chase/Bear a service-dog label, so she could take him everywhere she went. He totally loved it. I think she should have gotten a puppy legiimately, instead of stealing somebody else's dog. Chase loved his family The problen was when they were gone, and left him alone. Dogs are social animals, they don't want to be left alone. Miss Briggs got Chase a service animal designation, so she could take him everywhere.

That's what dogs are made for. In France you can take them shopping, to restaurants, anywhere. They love it.

NotUrFool

Just out of curiosity has anyone even verified that this dog is actually a certified service animal? Rather convenient thing to claim when not wanting to return the animal. Personally I have never heard of a agility/service dog before.
If this is something that is true how does one go about having their own personal dog trained in this manner. I have asthma too and wouldn't mind having my dog legally certified as a service dog too.

Integrity

Miss Biggs needs to do the right thing (which has always been the right thing), and return Chase to his family immediately!!! She had no right to take Chase in the first place, and she certainly doesn't have a right to keep him now (especially since the director of Multomah County Animal Services has deemed Chase's rightful owner as Hanson-Fleming). The longer you drag this out, the more it is going to hurt everyone involved. Return Chase to Hanson-Fleming and his family now!!!! He is not your dog!

Integrity

This seems apropos: The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views. Which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.

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