Benton County Circuit Court Judge Locke Williams granted a motion Monday to postpone the criminal trial of an Oregon State University student accused of theft in a widely-publicized dog custody dispute.
Instead, defendant Jordan Biggs and her council will meet with the prosecutor on Oct. 25 to negotiate a possible settlement.
Biggs, 20, took ownership of a husky mix she said she found wandering in Portland last year. She named the dog “Bear” and had him trained as a service dog to help manage her asthma.
She was arrested July 20 on a first-degree theft charge under allegations that she refused to return the dog to Sam Hanson-Fleming of Portland, who authorities later confirmed as the dog’s legal owner. The dog had jumped a fence and went missing. By chance, Hanson-Fleming spotted the dog in line at a drive-through coffee stand when Biggs was visiting Portland in May. He immediately recognized the dog’s distinct markings as his dog, “Chase,” when he saw him in Biggs’ vehicle. He confronted her and after initially agreeing to return the dog, Biggs refused, and the dispute began.
Corvallis police seized the dog, but before it could be released to Hanson-Fleming, Biggs’ attorney, Geordie Duckler, accused him of abusing the animal. The dog was held at the Oregon Humane Society in Portland for almost two months to allow the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office to investigate the allegations. Once the attorney’s office cleared Hanson-Fleming of the charges of abuse and neglect, Judge Williams ordered the dog to continue to be held at the shelter to protect it as evidence in the pending Benton County criminal trial.
On Oct. 4, Williams ruled that the dog should be released to Hanson-Fleming, who picked up the dog later that day.
At a motion hearing on Monday, Benton County deputy district attorney David Amesbury proposed looking into a settlement with Biggs.