An Attleboro District Court judge who heard an international dispute over a mixed-breed dog brought to North Attleboro from a beach in Aruba has taken the case under advisement. Judge Edmond Mathers did not say when he would rule on the case. The two-day civil trial ended Friday with conflicting testimony concerning the physical condition of the dog, which the plaintiffs say was kidnapped and the defendants say was a stray saved from certain death.
In this case, the physical condition when the dog was found in Aruba and ownership of the dog are not the only bones of contention.
The two sides call the dog by different names.
The plaintiffs, Cornelia Hajdinyak and Howard Tromp, of Aruba, call it "Whitey." The defendants, Lisa and Dan O'Connell of North Attleboro, call it "Coco."
Hajdinyak testified marks on the dog were scars from surgery after it was struck by a car in Aruba a year ago. Lisa O'Connell testified veterinarians who treated the dog never found surgical scars.
Hajdinyak maintained she returned to Aruba from her home in Switzerland last fall and was told the dog was lost, before learning from an Animal Relief Foundation volunteer in Aruba that the dog was flown to the United States.
O'Connell says she and her husband found the dog tick-infested, thirsty, hungry and with no identification on the beach before taking it to a veterinarian on the island.
They adopted the dog after being told it would likely be killed because Aruba has a stray dog problem, O'Connell maintained.
Under cross-examination Friday, O'Connell acknowledged that veterinarian reports the plaintiffs' lawyer Keith Langer of Wrentham showed her did not mention the dog was malnourished or dehydrated. But she later explained the exam was not comprehensive.
Hajdinyak testified again Friday that she offered in an email to pay all O'Connell's expenses and would buy her another rescue dog if she returned her dog.
"She told me not to contact her anymore and she refused to give me my dog back," Hajdinyak testified.
O'Connell's lawyer, Alfred Gray of Boston, argued that the plaintiffs have not established they even owned the dog, and called an ownership agreement they presented as evidence "bogus."
He told the judge that even if he finds they owned the dog, evidence and testimony indicates they "relinquished" ownership of it.
"At this point," he said, "Coco is in a safe environment. She is happy. She is loved."
Langer said the ownership agreement was proper, and argued that the so-called adoption of the dog was improper. He argued the volunteer who testified did not understand the law in Aruba and relied on information about it in a tourist newspaper.
He said the case is not as complex as the defendants are making it out to be, calling it a simple property case.
"The defendant willfully and repeatedly refused to turn over Whitey to her true owners," Langer argued.
Hopefully the judge will study the facts and conclude the dog should be sent back to its rightfull owner in Aruba.
Arashi Beach, Hyatt, Radisson, Shopping, Flea Market, Downtown, Palm Beach, Everything
good thing i wasn't the court reporter on that case. my judge use to say i drove him crazy. if it was my judge, i'd be knocking on chamber doors and telling him if he sent that dog back to aruba, he'd be getting a whole new "crazy" from me. i think if she spent as much energy on keeping that dog safe and loved as she has trying to get him back, that would be a lucky dog. judge judy would never send that dog back.