Obie, a morbidly obese dachshund at the center of an Oregon custody battle, will remain with foster mom Nora Vanatta — but only until the courts decide who legally owns him.
On Monday afternoon, Judge D. Charles Bailey of the Washington County Circuit Court denied Oregon Dachshund Rescue's request to return the dog to the Portland-based organization's founder Jenell Rangan. Obie can stay with Vanatta, who has cared for him these past two months, until the courts determines his rightful owner.
"I'm not convinced that at this point in time this dog is any more ODR's than it is Ms. Vanatta's," Bailey said, according to OregonLive.com.
Vanatta, who says Obie has lost 15 pounds in the last two months, took to the pup's Facebook page to voice her delight: "Well, Obie gets to stay with me for now but looks like the battle will continue. Thank you for your support. Obie is happy and chewing on his bone."
Over 6,000 people "liked" the comment within an hour of its posting, and hundreds chimed in with words of support.
The custody battle started after Oregon Dachshund Rescue took Obie, then 77 pounds, in from an elderly couple who struggled to care for the portly pooch. Rangan, the shelter's founder, couldn't take care of him herself, so she solicited the help of Vanatta, who offered to provide a temporary foster home for him.
After Vanatta created Obie's Facebook page, he became an Internet sensation and hundreds offered words of encouragement while Vanatta tracked his weight loss online. But a complaint filed last Tuesday by Oregon Dachshund Rescue claims that Vanatta has been “exploiting the dog for the sensationalistic promotional value of its unusual obesity.” Now they are fighting over who legally owns the dog.
While Obie's fate has been decided for the time being, his case will soon go on to its next phase: arbitration. After that, his case could go to trial.