Lucy or Gracie the Chihuahua wearing a sweater the Watsons gave her. (Sept. 26, 2012/FOX Carolina)
EASLEY, SC (FOX Carolina) -
One tiny dog is causing a conflict between two Upstate families, one an Easley City Councilman and his wife, and the other a family with four children - who all claim the dog is theirs.
And the two families are ready to fight for ownership of the small Chihuahua.
"Everyone loved Lucy. I mean her temperament was great. She was a very calming dog," Kerri Blanton said.
"She found us. She was on our front porch in a chair shivering and she weighed 3.5 pounds and now she weighs 6.5 pounds," said Trisha Watson.
Both families believe they are entitled to the same dog, called Lucy or Gracie depending on the family.
The Blantons lost their beloved Lucy when she got out of a friend's yard while they were on vacation in May.
"We went door-to-door in the neighborhood where she went missing, handed out fliers," Keith Blanton said. "Put fliers in some of the local area restaurants, convenience stores, even left one with the fire department in that area."
The Blantons also posted at least five ads on Craigslist then they spotted a photo of Lucy at an Easley City Council meeting on the Easley Patch website.
Councilman Dave Watson and his wife Trisha said they tried hard to find the owners but couldn't. They kept Lucy, naming her Gracie.
"We put out signs and we called vets and we called groomers and nobody that we could see was actively searching because there were no signs up in our neighborhood," said Trisha Watson.
So the Watsons kept her. They take her with them to their auction business where she has an embroidered blanket and wears a pink sweater and new collar.
"We have just fallen in love with her and she's in love with us and it would be like giving away your child," said Trisha Watson.
The Watsons believe since so much time has passed, Gracie belongs to them.
"She sleeps with us," Dave Watson said. "We take her to work."
"It would be like asking someone to give up their child," Trisha Watson said.
But the Blantons are heartbroken. They've shed a lot of tears and their two youngest children have shirts with Lucy's picture on them. They're hoping the Watsons change their mind.
"You would think a public servant in this situation would do the right thing, morally right," Keith Blanton said.
The Blantons have filed a complaint in magistrate's court and are ready to take the matter to a judge, who will likely resolve this doggie dilemma.
"The court will decide who the proper owner of the dog is," Keith Blanton said.
"We're not going to give her up easily," Trisha Watson said. "It would have to go to court I guess because we really feel the law is on our side."
The dog did not have a microchip or tag, and the Blantons said she was always inside.
Councilman Watson and his wife offered the Blantons $300 to buy a new dog. Before that, the Blantons claimed the Watsons asked them for $500 for food, vet care and other bills because they had taken care of the dog since May.
When FOX Carolina contacted several Upstate attorneys to see what their take on the case was, there were several varying opinions.
A few cited a South Carolina statute about stray animals. Some said the dog should be returned to the Blantons, but they should pay the Watsons back for taking care of her.
And other lawyers said that after three days, the dog belonged to the new family because she wasn't claimed.
All the lawyers agreed it will be up to a magistrate to decide who gets to keep her and who is left without their beloved dog.
Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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