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Penn. woman launches Internet fight with rescue who won't return her sheltie

At the center of the Internet drama is Piper, a five-year-old sheltie both parties claim belongs to them.
At the center of the Internet drama is Piper, a five-year-old sheltie both parties claim belongs to them.
Veronica Covatch

Veronica Covatch of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania has been fighting with an Ohio dog rescue group for months, trying to get her sheltie dog back, according to an online Internet campaign on Facebook called Bring Piper Home.

The five-year-old sheltie named Ch Legacies Pipe Dream, more familiarly called Piper, escaped from a friend's backyard in Columbus, Ohio back in April. The dog was turned into the Franklin County Animal Control who turned Piper over to the Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue in Columbus. The rescue's founder and president Penny Sanderbeck claims the dog belongs to the shelter, and it is her right to put the dog up for adoption.

Covatch, on the other hand, the co-owner of Piper, along with Michelle Wilson, have identified their dog through a microchip. And when one would think all the squabbling would cease, a contentious battle of ownership continues and has been played out on the Internet and through social media.

From, John Bell, the attorney for the Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue stated:

It’s a lot of fuss about a stray. Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue is the owner of the dog now, but we would .. that …that question of legal ownership doesn’t mean that the dog would not necessarily go back to someone who had him before or had her before. Um it … it just … that’s just a legal question that once the dog comes out of the shelter to the rescue, it’s the rescue’s dog and that’s the end of it."

In response, however the attorney, Lloyd Cohen, for the plaintiffs responded stating:

“Watching the NBC4i broadcast of Piper’s story, at the same time I was moved by Veronica’s hurt – I heard the rescue’s real position as a claim of absolute ownership and I still had to ask myself … why?

That is the question we are all asking! Why? The second question we are asking is Where is PIPER!"

In addition Cohen asked:

“We can’t understand why a nonprofit organization that claims on its website to be devoted to animal welfare and reuniting lost animals with their owners would rather put time, money and energy into fighting this than let Veronica and Piper be reunited."

Legal action has been filed with the Franklin County Municipal Court; the rescue had been ordered to return Piper to Covatch until the dispute was legally settled, but instead of returning the dog, Sanderbeck posted a $10,000 bond to retain custody of the dog until the case of legal ownership is determined.

Meanwhile, a dog with a microchip identified as belonging to someone has not been returned. So often happy reunion stories of dogs returned to their rightful owners after years of being missing, continue to delight and thrill us. Many of the reunions were a direct result of microchips and the ability to find the owner. Is there no end to Internet drama and why does an innocent dog have to be the victim?

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