Dog returns to first owner

2012-10-05T02:00:00Z 2012-10-05T07:54:59Z Dog returns to first ownerBy CANDA FUQUA, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times

OSU student loses bid to keep dog she found in Portland, but the dispute isn’t over

A Portland man embroiled in a lengthy dog custody dispute with an Oregon State University student was awarded the dog in a motion hearing Thursday in Benton County Circuit Court.

“I have a flood of emotions going on right now,” Sam Hanson-Fleming said in a phone interview about being able to take home the fluffy husky mix he calls Chase. “I’m really excited, I can’t wait. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out.”

OSU student Jordan Biggs, 22, was arrested July 20 on a first-degree theft charge for allegedly taking ownership of a dog she found in Portland and later named Bear. She refused to return the dog when, a year later, Hanson-Fleming claimed he was the dog’s rightful owner. She said that she had trained the dog to help her manage her asthma.

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 its distinct markings when he saw it in Bigg’s vehicle, and he confronted her. After initially agreeing to return the dog, Biggs refused, and the dispute began.

A Multnomah County Animal Services administrator performed an investigation on Hanson-Fleming’s request and determined that the dog was his. He lost the dog when it jumped his fence in March 2011.

Corvallis police charged Biggs with theft and seized the dog. But before it could be released to Hanson-Fleming, Biggs’ attorney, Geordie Duckler, filed allegations that Hanson-Fleming had abused his dog. The dog was intercepted July 21 and taken to the Oregon Humane Society in Portland because the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office didn’t want the dog returned until it could investigate those allegations.

After Hanson-Fleming was cleared of animal abuse, the dog continued to be held at the Oregon Humane Society because Benton County Circuit Court Judge Locke Williams granted Biggs’ motion to hold the animal in protective custody as evidence in her criminal case.

“Somewhat in the vein of King Solomon, the court thought that the parties might resolve this case in a manner that would allow the dog not be kept in a cage for two and a half months,” Williams said at Thursday’s hearing.

Deputy District Attorney David Amesbury, with the help of Hanson-Fleming’s attorney James McCurdy, called two witnesses from the Oregon Humane Society and questioned them via telephone. They also called an investigator for the district attorney’s office.

McCurdy argued that there was no dispute that the dog belongs to Hanson-Fleming, and that there was no evidentiary purpose to hold the dog. He accused Duckler of legal maneuvering for the purpose of keeping the dog from Hanson-Fleming.

“It’s interesting to note that Mr. Duckler’s arguments weren’t focused as an evidentiary necessity of the dog, but rather keeping the dog from Mr. Hanson-Fleming,” he said in closing arguments. “Actually, the purpose of this whole thing for six months now is, ‘How do we best create hurdles for Mr. Hanson-Fleming in hopes that he’ll just give up?’”

Duckler pointed out that the dog’s ownership is being disputed in two different proceedings. His client is appealing the Multnomah County Animal Services’ decision, he said. In addition, a civil lawsuit his client launched July 11 in Multnomah County Circuit Court is ongoing.

Though Duckler hadn’t yet taken the opportunity to inspect the dog as evidence in the case, he told the judge that he planned to.

“I just got state’s witness list yesterday,” he said. “I’m still preparing my defense.”

Judge Williams granted ownership to Hanson-Fleming with the condition that the dog is available for reasonable purposes in the pending civil and criminal cases.

But the decision meant that Hanson-Fleming could have a joyous reunion with the dog that he never stopped trying to get back after that chance sighting last spring.

Hanson-Fleming was reunited with Chase on Thursday at the Oregon Humane Society in Portland.

Reporter Canda Fuqua can be reached at 541-758-9548 or canda.fuqua@lee.net.

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(15) Comments

  1. MoKnows
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    MoKnows - October 25, 2012 3:59 pm
    Facts.....Chase jumped the fence and he had a collar and tags on him. In her own lawsuit Piggs states when she found the dog...he had temporary collar and tags that "someone" in the neighborhood put on him when they found him wandering around the previous day. Raise your hand everyone, that carries around spare tags and collars to put on wandering dogs, and send them back to wandering around??? She ignored the tags and took off that same day. Also Sam has proof he put lost dog posters up, posted on craigs list, and notified animal shelters and control of lost dog. Pigg ignored everything, and just decided dog was hers, and made no effort to find the dogs owners, because if she had tried, Chase would have been home, and she would not have had to spend any money on the dog. Facts are facts, and Piggs is one rich, spoiled rotten dog thief!!!
  2. Stand Up
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    Stand Up - October 05, 2012 9:57 am
    Sure, the term is CYA. Okay, it's not a legal term, but appropriate.
  3. reader42
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    reader42 - October 05, 2012 9:05 am
    Very curious. I wonder if there is a legal term for that?
  4. reader42
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    reader42 - October 05, 2012 9:02 am
    curious one sounds like a good person who has done the right thing. The "finder" in this case apparently didn't.
  5. IamIrene
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    IamIrene - October 04, 2012 4:53 pm
    A-freaking-men!
  6. IamIrene
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    IamIrene - October 04, 2012 3:41 pm
    Fliers were posted, ads put up on Craigslist, local vets were called and, most importantly, he made a "lost dog" report to MultCo. Animal Svcs. He did not stop looking for almost 6 months. Little did he know he had zero chance of finding him since Ms. Biggs removed Chase to Corvallis, over an hour south!
  7. IamIrene
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    IamIrene - October 04, 2012 3:39 pm
    Indeed. It was a miracle that Chase and Hanson-Fleming were reunited at all! Shame on Ms. Biggs for needlessly keeping them apart for an additional 5 months.
  8. IamIrene
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    IamIrene - October 04, 2012 3:38 pm
    If it can be proved that she did not steal Chase (whom she drove to Corvallis the same day he jumped his fence), then yes, I would say since he escaped and she took care of him she would be entitled to reasonable care reimbursement.

    Also, there is a microchip in that dog. She put one in on the same day she accidentally ran into Sam Hanson-Fleming in the Dutch Bros. drive-thru. Now...why would she wait so long to do that only to do it the second his rightful owner found him? Interesting.
  9. Stand Up
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    Stand Up - October 04, 2012 3:30 pm
    If she had taken the dog to the humane society, as she should have, she wouldn't have incurred any costs for a dog that wasn't hers. Hanson-Fleming checked the humane societys for months as well as flyers, etc. Jordan Biggs shouldn't be reimbursed for anything, in fact, she should pay all Hanson-Flemings lawyer costs. Jordan should be held criminally liable because she knew what she was doing was wrong, but I find myself hoping the criminal charges are dropped.
  10. curious one
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    curious one - October 04, 2012 3:13 pm
    Just what kind of an owner was this fellow? He had no chip in his dog. Dog gets away, someone thinks him a stray (want to know how many dogs are put down at the shelter every year?) and keeps him. Apparently no ad in the paper for the dog. As to leaving town with the dog, since she had the dog and thought he was hers by then, there was no reason not to leave.

    If it turns out the guy was mistreating the dog, he should not have gotten him back. And, I think having a pet without a chip, especially in a big city, is mistreatment. One wonders what kind of vet care the dog had before she got him.

    A word to all you out there so concerned: go down to your local shelter and adopt. Those dogs and cats who don't find homes end up killed you know. So take one if you can, keep up their vet care (and they will already have a chip), and love them. Keep them on a leash (dog or cat), or at home, and this won't happen. Have taken in more animals over the years that were "lost" and never claimed because their owners didn't care. Have put ads in for the found animals as well - nothing. Have spent thousands on vet care. So before complaining, walk in the shoes of the "finders" once in a while!
  11. Littlemisssunshine
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    Littlemisssunshine - October 04, 2012 2:44 pm
    It's a sad/happy story for all involved. I really hope the accusations of the dog being mistreated and abused by Hanson-Fleming were found to be false since the dog is going back to Hanson-Fleming. Such a beautiful dog and sounds like a great companion.
  12. GeeWiz
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    GeeWiz - October 04, 2012 2:38 pm
    People should not take a found dog out of town like she did when she transferred it from Portland to Corvallis. When she did it made it harder for her and for the dogs owner to reconnect.
  13. Stand Up
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    Stand Up - October 04, 2012 1:28 pm
    If she had taken the dog to the humane society, as she should have, she wouldn't have incurred any costs for a dog that wasn't hers. Hanson-Fleming checked the humane societys for months as well as flyers, etc. Jordan Biggs shouldn't be reimbursed for anything, in fact, she should pay all Hanson-Flemings lawyer costs. Jordan should be held criminally liable because she knew what she was doing was wrong, but I find myself hoping the criminal charges are dropped.
  14. TwinsFan
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    TwinsFan - October 04, 2012 1:09 pm
    If it stands that the dog goes back, I hope she is reimbursed for food, shelter and vet care. Also, someone needs to put a microchip in that dog! That would have saved this whole problem.
  15. IamIrene
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    IamIrene - October 04, 2012 11:59 am
    Actually, it was only 1 year later, not a year and a half. Sam found his dog, Chase, in the Dutch Bros. drive-thru on May 13, 2012, remember? Sam has been fighting to get his dog back ever since then because Biggs, who promised she would return Chase in two days if Sam let her take him home to "say his goodbyes", instead decided to lawyer-up and try to keep Chase. Chase would have been back home MONTHS AGO but for Biggs and her "finders, keepers" mentality.
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