Update July 25, 2015: Piper has been ordered by the court to be returned after 15 months in the hands of the COSR.
Franklin County Animal Control picked up a lost sheltie over the Easter holiday and delivered her to Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue in Columbus, Ohio. Four months later, Veronica Covatch of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, is still fighting to get her lost sheltie back.
Covatch filed a lawsuit claiming she has been trying to get her 5-year-old sheltie back since April 2014 but the sheltie rescue refuses to return her dog, Piper.
Penny Sanderbeck, director of the sheltie rescue says the sheltie is a stray handed to her by animal control officers and rightfully belongs to the rescue group. Although Penny Sanderbeck is not willing to give Covatch her dog, she is willing to accept applications for adoption from anyone else.
There is a few stipulations that applicants for Piper must go through before being considered. Sanderbeck's attorney, John Bell, will be taking the adoption applications. The applicant must prove not to be involved in the alleged burglary in May of the director's home/rescue shelter. And finally, applicants must not be connected to Ms. Covatch or support her in her right to fight for the return of her sheltie.
Piper escaped from a Columbus backyard while a friend was pet sitting. Covatchs' friend had a family emergency and upon returning from the hospital the dog was missing. Animal control found the sheltie and quickly turned her over to the sheltie rescue.
Since April 25, 2014, Good Friday, Sanderbeck says there have been Internet posts, emails, letters and websites claiming the director is wrongfully in possession of Piper. The director and her attorney say the dog belongs to the rescue now.
On May 10, 2014, Sanderbeck's attorney, John Bell, issued a public statement via the COSR website about heated complaints made by animal lovers everywhere who are worried or concerned about Piper, who is an AKC registered, National Champion Show Dog.
Sanderbeck says the complaints and threats are made without knowing the case and she says,“The facts: “Piper” was released to COSR by the Franklin County Animal Shelter, where it had been impounded as an unlicensed stray after the required waiting period. This was done in full-compliance with all applicable Ohio laws. Several days later, COSR was contacted by people claiming rights to ownership or possessed “Piper” before the dog was impounded by the Shelter.
As a responsible rescue, COSR asked that those people who claim rights to ownership or possession of “Piper” submit their evidence supporting those claims so that if, indeed, this dog did belong to a private owner other than COSR, it could be returned to that owner.”
Evidence submitted included pedigree documents from Veronica Covatch, the first claimant; however, the rescue director alleges this pedigree could belong to thousands of shelties. A co-owner submitted photos and veterinarian records. Sanderbeck says there are, at least, 6 different people claiming to be rightful owner or co-owner.
The rescue mission statement claims, “It’s all about the dogs.”
After four months of exhausting pleas for Pipers return, Covatch filed a complaint in Franklin County Municipal Court against Sanderbeck. All details have not come forth in the case, but updates will be posted as we follow the story of Piper, Sanderbeck has until September 1, 2014 to answer the complaint.
In the meantime, the National Sheltie Rescue Network detached themselves from having anymore connections to Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue. "We don't support this kind of behavior, we can't have her a part of our network." said Barbara Edelberg.