Sammy is just a little dog in a big city — but now he’s in the middle of a large legal battle as well: A he-said, she-said dispute over ownership of his website “Sammy and the City” has erupted into a full-scale dogfight.
According to Scott Smith, 43, of Manhattan, his girlfriend Anna Camara, 44, stole their increasingly popular website away from him and his sister Jessica by changing the passwords and locking him out of “Sammy and the City,” which features 10-lb. Pomeranian Sammy and his adventures through New York City.
Sammy’s dog’s-eye views of the city attracted 40,000 visitors a month to his site, as well as more than 51,000 followers on Instagram and over 10,000 Facebook and Twitter fans combined.
‘Lies have short legs’
Smith alleges that the fame Sammy has garnered makes him an online sensation worth half a million dollars, the amount for which he says he will sue ex-girlfriend Camara.
Though the couple broke up last year, they continued working on the website together. But Smith said Camara recently changed the passwords and prevented him from uploading new images, jeopardizing the financial viability of the site. He has since started a new Facebook page, “Sammy and the World,” and a new website, “Everybody Loves Sammy,” which is currently under construction.
In a statement to NBC news, Camara said she has “not been served the lawsuit” and maintained that the idea for the website was hers. She also said she owns the site, and “took every photo, shot and edited every Youtube video.” She ended her letter by saying “lies have short legs.”
Scott Smith and his sister Jessica, who helped with the original website, defended the lawsuit Tuesday to TODAY’s Willie Geist. Sammy was dressed up for the occasion, wearing a dapper bow tie.
Smith has also said that he owns Sammy, but in the statement to NBC, Camara said Smith signed a notarized document that gave her co-ownership. She also alleges that it was Smith who changed the passwords to the site, not her.
“That’s a lie,” Smith’s sister Jessica said.
Smith added, “If that’s the case, how come I can’t get in to the website or use Instagram? Why did I have to change new names and Facebook pages?”
Jessica Smith also maintains that Smith would never sign over his dog to a “girl he was dating for a year.” She said, “He’s had this dog for seven years, this dog is his life. He would never, ever — this would be like giving his child to a girl he was dating.”
How much is it worth?
While he and Camara were dating, Smith said, they shared responsibilities for the site: Smith did all the writing while Camara took all the pictures. Smith also said that he did all the networking around the city and around the world.
Though Smith said he is suing for $500,000, he says the site is worth $1 million “at least.”
But Geist questioned that figure. He said, “The dog is adorable, the site is a lot of fun, but that sounds like a big number. How did you get at that?” He pointed out that Camara said in her letter that the website has never made a dime.
“The site never made a penny. Anna’s absolutely right about that,” Smith acknowledged. “We never had any revenues for the site even though our platform was ready for that.”
Smith said he arrived at the value of the site by calculating the inherent value he has assigned to each user, using the recent acquisition of Instagram by Facebook for $1 billion to gauge that value. While admitting that “Sammy in the City” is not Facebook or Instagram, he told Geist, “there’s a value for an audience.”