COPY-Dog custody battle goes to court - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

COPY-Dog custody battle goes to court

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 JEFFERSON (WKOW) -- A man who faces a possible criminal charge over a 14-year old dog has filed a lawsuit in Waukesha County court, trying to get the Blue Healer mix back.

Sheriff's officials seized the dog named "Spur" from Justin Stanford of Oconomowoc, stating Stanford was suspected of stealing the dog from Daniel and Tina Marshall of Helenville in Jefferson County.

"It's horrible," Stanford tells 27 News. Spur is featured in engagement photographs of Stanford and his wife Amy.

Stanford's lawsuit maintains Spur wandered onto rural, Jefferson County where he rented horse stalls in 2010, and using dog tags to retrieve an owner number, he called Tina Marshall and expressed concerns over the dog's failing health.

"Her response...was a pretty flippant response," Stanford tells 27 News. "She said, 'He's fine, leave 'em be. If you think you could do better, you take him.' "

"I interpreted it, she had total disregard for the dog."

Marshall says she does not recall talking with Stanford, but says she never told anyone to take her dog. Marshall says she and neighbors searched for Spur unsuccessfully.

 "We searched all over, in drainage ditches," Marshall tells 27 News. "I reported him missing to the Jefferson County Humane Society."

A Jefferson County Humane Society official says records are not kept on reports of missing pets.

Marshall tells 27 News she provided for Spur's health needs. Marshall says a chance meeting between her husband and one of Stanford's acquaintances this year alerted the Marshall family to Spur's whereabouts.

Marshall was reunited with Spur in February. Sheriff's officials say they've referred the stolen dog case to district attorney Susan Happ. Happ declines comment on whether she intends to charge Stanford with a crime. The search warrant used to seize Spur was based on possible evidence of the crime Theft of Domesticated Animal..

"At the end of the day, I didn't steal Spur," Stanford tells 27 News.

Stanford's lawsuit against the Marshalls and Jefferson County asks that Spur be returned to him, or the Marshalls reimburse Stanford thousands of dollars for veterinary and other costs of caring for Spur for four years.

Stanford also proposes Spur's placement with a foster family until the litigation over the dog's custody is resolved.

"I gave the dog the second chance, and then they just take him and put him back into a situation where he doesn't belong," Stanford says.

"Spur's my daughter's dog," Marshall says, noting her 22-year old daughter was a grade schooler when Spur joined the family. "We're happy he's back."






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