Pair spar over lost dog

2012-05-19T09:00:00Z 2012-07-11T20:55:45Z Pair spar over lost dogBy Bennett Hall, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times

Portland man, Corvallis woman both claim the pooch is theirs

Jordan Biggs loves her dog. So does Sam Hanson-Fleming — and he wants it back.

Biggs, a 20-year-old biology major at Oregon State University, was staying with her boyfriend in Portland in April of last year when the black, brown and white mixed-breed dog showed up on their doorstep.

“We took him for the night,” Biggs said. “The next morning, I started trying to find the owners.”

Biggs says she went from door to door around the neighborhood, put up posters, called veterinarians’ offices and the Humane Society, checked with area animal shelters and looked for lost dog ads on craigslist and other websites.

She didn’t want to take the dog to an animal shelter for fear he’d be put down if no one came to claim him. After more than two months of trying to locate the owner without result, she figured the dog was hers.

When she came down to Corvallis to go to school, she brought the dog, which she named Bear, with her.

Since then, she estimates, she has spent thousands of dollars on Bear, taking him to the vet for shots, neutering and microchipping. She even had him trained as a respiratory service dog who carries her inhaler and has been taught to get help if she has an asthma attack.

“He helps if I go unconscious or if I have trouble breathing,” she said.

“He goes to school with me.”

Biggs had come to consider Bear a permanent part of her life, but now she’s worried she might lose him.

Last Sunday, Biggs was in Portland to visit her family for Mother’s Day. She and her sister were in line at a drive-through coffee kiosk, and Bear was along for the ride.

Suddenly, a man got out of the car ahead of them and approached their vehicle. He said Bear was his dog — only he called him Chase.

Sam Hanson-Fleming said he recognized the animal immediately, even though he had been missing for more than a year.

“I look in my rearview mirror and there’s my dog Chase staring me in the face,” he said. “I would not mistake my family.”

According to Hanson-Fleming, he got the dog in December 2009, when it was six weeks old. In March 2011, Chase hopped over the back fence and disappeared.

Because the dog was tagged and licensed, he hoped someone would find him and turn him in, but that didn’t happen. Hanson-Fleming says he placed ads on craigslist and filed lost dog reports with the Oregon Humane Society and Multnomah County Animal Control.

“We looked for Chase for almost a year before we finally thought maybe he got hit by a car, or maybe someone took him,” he said.

On Sunday, after his chance encounter with Biggs at a Portland drive-through, he thought he would finally be reunited with his dog. But Biggs wasn’t willing to give him up.

“I tried to tell him he’s my service dog, that I’ve trained him in agility,” she said. “He didn’t even care.”

Hanson-Fleming said he offered to give Biggs visiting rights, but he’s not willing to give up his claim to Chase. He and his sons, aged 7 and 13, want their dog back.

“He is our family member,” Hanson-Fleming said. “My youngest son has been asking ever since Mother’s Day, ‘When’s he coming home?’”

But Chase — or Bear — went home with Biggs that day, and she plans to keep him.

“He’s my dog now,” she said.

Hanson-Fleming isn’t leaving it at that. He’s filed theft charges with the Portland Police Bureau.

Under Oregon law, dogs are considered personal property. But it’s not entirely clear just how either Biggs or Hanson-Fleming could prove their title to the animal.

Multnomah County records show that Hanson-Fleming did indeed license a dog named Chase in September 2010 and that he reported it missing on March 27, 2011. The license form describes the dog as an unaltered male Siberian husky mix weighing 44 pounds with erect ears and a black, tan and cream coat.

John Rowton, who manages the Multnomah County Animal Shelter, said he recalls seeing Hanson-Fleming at the front counter, asking about his missing dog.

“He’s done everything right,” Rowton said. “He had it licensed, he filed a report, he’s been coming out here and looking.”

Photos and veterinary records, Rowton said, could also strengthen his case.

But Leslie Cole, a dog trainer who worked with Biggs and Bear, is not convinced.

“There’s no proof that is his dog,” she said.

Barbara Baugnon, communications director for the Oregon Humane Society, said it’s a sad situation but one that might have been avoided if Hanson-Fleming had gotten a microchip ID implant for Chase.

“I’ve heard stories like this before,” she said. “That’s why I love microchips. That’s the number one way a lost dog would get home.”

Contact Bennett Hall at 541-758-9529 or bennett.hall@gazettetimes.com.

 

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

(9) Comments

  1. rmyc
    Report Abuse
    rmyc - July 16, 2012 8:21 pm
    I know the girl and her medical condition is Asthma, what a selfish person to make the dog her servant to just carry an inhaeler for her. I'd understand if she was blind and already attached to the dog. But in reality the dog doesn't even have real training. she just did this so she can take "her" pet to school and public places so people can awww at it. Has she never heard of a phanny pack?
  2. raintown
    Report Abuse
    raintown - July 15, 2012 7:53 am
    It does appear that Chase belongs to Mr. Hanson. The girl should not have taken his dog and run off to Corvallis with it where he had no chance of reclaiming it. The right thing was for the girl to take Chase to the proper authorities so Mr. Hanson could reclaim it.
  3. raintown
    Report Abuse
    raintown - July 15, 2012 7:50 am
    I believe that Mr Hanson Fleming should get his dog back. Chase is not "the little girl's dog now". Mr. Hanson did everything right. The girl should not have claimed and taken the dog. When you find an animal you take it to the proper authorities so it can be claimed by the owner. The girl apparently took the dog off to Corvallis, where the owner had no chance of finding it.
  4. native57
    Report Abuse
    native57 - July 14, 2012 11:03 am
    There is a beautiful 1 yr old shepherd mix in the rescue me program at Safe Haven. Why doesn't she get a dog the right way...adopt one!
  5. ReturnChaseNow
    Report Abuse
    ReturnChaseNow - July 13, 2012 6:54 pm
    Readers may contribute to a charitable legal fund designed to help Sam Hanson-Fleming, and his family, pay legal expenses as he fights to get Chase returned home.

    You may go to any US Bank and make a donation to RETURN CHASE NOW CHARITABLE LEGAL FUND. All remaining donations once this case has been settled will be donated to the Oregon Humane Society.
  6. Carmello
    Report Abuse
    Carmello - July 12, 2012 8:15 pm
    Do the right thing and give the man back his dog. If not for the man, how about his two young sons that miss their buddy. GIVE HIM BACK
  7. dogman
    Report Abuse
    dogman - July 12, 2012 6:57 pm
    Miss Biggs Give the dog back to his rightful owner. Its bad vibes to keep the dog knowing that it belongs to someone else. Keeping the dog is a terrible thing to do and you should be ashamed of yourself. Your life will never be happy with a stolen dog.
  8. esther
    Report Abuse
    esther - July 11, 2012 9:43 pm
    What kind of training did this dog receive to qualify as a service dog. A pet is not a service dog according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. That woman looks entirely capable of carrying her own inhaler around.

    I am really disgusted by people who abuse the ADA and claim their pets are service animals. It does a disservice to persons with real service animals and it does a disservice to their pets. Anyone can buy a little jacket to put on their pet that says "service dog." That does not make your dog a service dog. Carry your own inhaler. Leave your pet at home. Perhaps the other asthmatics in your classes have problems with dog allergies.
  9. Integrity
    Report Abuse
    Integrity - July 11, 2012 5:43 pm
    Miss Biggs, give the dog back to his rightful owner. You have no idea how painful it is to lose a dog. Do the right thing and give the dog back!!!!!!
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