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Old 03-22-2009, 06:40 AM   #1
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Default Roommates’ split causes court battle over Yorkshire Terrier

Roommates’ split causes court battle over terrier

Dave Bakke: Roommates’ split causes court battle over terrier - Springfield, IL - The State Journal-Register

By Dave Bakke
THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER
Posted Mar 21, 2009 @ 11:42 PM

In a nasty divorce, one of the most contentious questions usually is, “Who gets custody of the kids?”

But in a nasty split between former roommates in Springfield, the most contentious question has been, “Who gets custody of the dog?”

The question of dog ownership is in the Seventh Circuit court in Springfield in Denna Mooney vs. Lori Smith. In fact, ownership of the dog has been decided by a judge once already, but the question is headed back to court again and perhaps again after that.

According to Mooney’s father, Ron Mooney, this $500 Yorkshire terrier has cost his daughter $15,000 in legal fees so far. If the legal fees on Smith’s side are anything comparable, this is one expensive little dog.

Mooney, who filed the lawsuit, is represented by attorney Chris Sherer and Smith by attorney Kelli Gordon.

In better times, Mooney and Smith shared a house in Springfield.

They had joint ownership of the house, a joint credit card and, eventually, co-ownership of the dog, splitting the $500 evenly.

They named the Yorkshire terrier Tiki, in honor of a trip they took together to Hawaii.

Things began to sour between them, however, and they decided to stop being roommates. When they separated, Smith kept Tiki. Mooney also wanted the dog, but, states the lawsuit in classic lawsuit language, Smith kept Tiki “willfully and maliciously with a wanton disregard of plaintiff’s (Mooney’s) rights.”

Mooney’s lawsuit claims she eventually learned that Tiki was being kept at someone else’s home. She went there to get the dog, but Smith found out and started on her way to prevent it. Anticipating trouble, Mooney called 911. But Smith arrived before the law and, Mooney says, angrily took Tiki from Mooney’s arms, vowing that Mooney would never see the dog again.

For her part, Smith says they wouldn’t even have gotten Tiki if not for her. A local breeder submitted a supporting affidavit saying Smith had been wanting a Yorkie for years and finally got Tiki from her in 2006.

Smith claims she, not Mooney, was the dog’s primary caregiver. Smith said she paid vet bills that were not shared. Mooney disputes that and even submitted an affidavit from a witness saying that it was clear Tiki liked Mooney best.

Back and forth it went until the end of January, when Circuit Judge Leslie Graves ruled that Tiki would stay with Smith. If the judge thought that settled the issue, she was mistaken.

Mooney’s attorney, Sherer, filed a motion asking Graves to reconsider. The motion says there were issues left unresolved by Graves’ January ruling on the ownership of Tiki. Back to court they will go on March 30 for clarification. And even that might not be the end of it.

“I’m afraid,” Ron Mooney says, “it’s going to go to the appellate court.”

In advance of the new hearing, which will be before Graves again, Mooney’s side filed a few more affidavits raising more issues about Smith’s ownership of Tiki.

“It’s kind of a messy deal,” says Ron Mooney.

Both sides would probably agree on that, if not much else.

I told him I thought it unusual that the two women were able to resolve joint ownership of their house but not the ownership of their dog. That’s what I get for assuming.

On the contrary, said Ron Mooney, ownership issues surrounding the house where his daughter and Smith lived have not been resolved.

“Now we’ll have to go to court on that,” he said.
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Old 03-22-2009, 02:56 PM   #2
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Wow. That's nuts! Poor pup!
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Old 03-22-2009, 03:14 PM   #3
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wow...crazy...but I would spend every penny I have and more to keep my baby too!!
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Old 03-22-2009, 03:27 PM   #4
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That dog must REALLY must be something...huh...well aren't all yorkies! Moose seems to think his the BOMB! I think they should work out some kind of joint custody but that would be hard on the dog being stable!
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