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Piper the Sheltie hand-off stand-off: Day 1 and no dog

Bring Piper Home.
Bring Piper Home.Veronica Wagner Covatch

Veronica Wagner Covatch was relieved when the judge ordered her dog Piper returned. The order came down yesterday, but as of today, 6 p.m., Piper has not been produced.

Piper was a champion (Legacies Pipe Dream) before her disappearance in April, but each day she is gone, each day Covatch has to pay legal fees, her value increases. To date, Covatch has accrued $14,197.50 in legal fees (including the bond), but she has only raised $4695.45 in auctions and with her GoFundMe campaign. That's a lot of debt for a little dog.

To recount the events, Piper was with a caretaker in Ohio while Piper's owner, Pennsylvania-resident Covatch was attending the annual national sheltie show in Missouri (St. Louis). The caretaker's father had what was thought to be a heart attack. Piper escaped and was turned over to the Franklin County Animal Shelter. The shelter found Piper's microchip but the vet didn't have access to the records until after the holiday weekend. Although Piper was licensed in Ohio and Pennsylvania and the animal shelters is supposed to keep licensed dogs for at least 14 days, the shelter turned over the dog to Penny Sanderbeck, the director of Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue, who was soon contacted by Covatch.

Covatch turned over vet records and photos, but Sanderbeck has refused to return the dog--even if Covatch got DNA tests.

Covatch's attorney, Lloyd D. Cohen of Columbus, Ohio, filed a Complaint for Replevin and Conversion action in the Franklin County Municipal Court against COSR (Case Number 2014-CVF-024571) on 28 July 2014.

Replevin is sometimes known as a "claim and delivery" order. Replevin is a legal procedure for claiming the right to have personal property "returned from the possession of one who had less legal right to hold it than the plaintiff" according to the Free Legal dictionary. The motion is meant to reclaim property and the defendant can not claim that the property, in this case Piper, belonged to someone not involved because "the only issue before the court was rightful possession, not title." An uncooperative defendant "can be ordered to pay monetary damages to the other party."

A judge ordered on Wednesday, 6 August 2014, that Piper be turned over by the president of COSR, Sanderbeck, to return the dog. Sanderbeck was served with papers personally by officers of the court that day. If Sanderbeck was willing to cooperate, the dog should have been returned today. However, the order allows Sanderbeck to return the dog within five days or by the end of the business day on Monday.

Sanderbeck does have dogs running loose at her house so she certainly will not be lonely without Piper. Her attorney would give no comment this morning because this is a pending legal action.

All eyes are on Sanderbeck who may be hard pressed to rehabilitate the image of Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue, when this is over.

Covatch will be attempting to raise money to cover her ever mounting legal debt and can only wait. You can, however, help Covatch cover the costs of this four-month long legal action. Visit her Bring Piper Home Facebook page for information on her fundraising efforts.