Aye Chihuahua! Dog’s domain remains Indiana, appeals court rules

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Sofie, the black-and-white Chihuahua-rat terrier mix, stays in Indiana, the Court of Appeals affirmed in a canine custody challenge.

Despite finding clear error, the panel rejected an appeal by a former Indiana resident who now lives in North Carolina and sought to use a protective order to claim custody of Sofie in Heather Herren v. Jerry Dishman, 18A04-1304-SC-162.

Jerry Dishman received Sofie from a former girlfriend, the record shows, before he and Heather Herren began an on-again, off-again relationship that included a period of incarceration for Dishman during which Herren cared for the animal.

Herren later moved to North Carolina and Dishman followed, but he soon returned to Muncie with Sofie. Herren claimed Dishman threatened her, and she obtained a protective order after he left that granted her “the care, custody, and control of any animal owned, possessed, kept, or held as a pet by either party."

Herren traveled to Indiana and presented the order to Muncie police, who went to Dishman’s home and retrieved Sofie, who returned to North Carolina with Herren. Dishman sued in small claims court and was granted an order of replevin returning Sofie, which the COA affirmed Tuesday.

On appeal, Herren argued that the court failed to extend full faith and credit to the North Carolina protective order and that it erred in denying her motion to dismiss. Judge Patricia Riley wrote that the court did err and demonstrated a manifest abuse of discretion by refusing to admit the protective order as evidence.

Despite those errors, though, the small claims court got the decision right, Riley wrote.

“Herren does not dispute the small claims court’s finding that Dishman never gave ownership of Sofie to Herren,” Riley wrote in a decision joined by Judges James Kirsch and Margret Robb. “We conclude that the small claims court clearly erred by failing to accord full faith and credit to the out-of-state Protective Order, but because Herren neither owned nor possessed Sofie at the time of the Protective Order’s issuance, Herren is not entitled to custody of the dog.”



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  1. Great observation Smith. By my lights, speaking personally, they already have. They counted my religious perspective in a pro-life context as a symptom of mental illness and then violated all semblance of due process to banish me for life from the Indiana bar. The headline reveals the truth of the Hoosier elite's animus. Details here: Denied 2016 petition for cert (this time around): (“2016Pet”) Amicus brief 2016: (“2016Amici”) As many may recall, I was banned for five years for failing to "repent" of my religious views on life and the law when a bar examiner demanded it of me, resulting in a time out to reconsider my "clinging." The time out did not work, so now I am banned for life. Here is the five year time out order: Denied 2010 petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): (“2010Pet”) Read this quickly if you are going to read it, the elites will likely demand it be pulled down or pile comments on to bury it. (As they have buried me.)

  2. if the proabortion zealots and intolerant secularist anti-religious bigots keep on shutting down every hint of religious observance in american society, or attacking every ounce of respect that the state may have left for it, they may just break off their teeth.

  3. "drug dealers and traffickers need to be locked up". "we cannot afford just to continue to build prisons". "drug abuse is strangling many families and communities". "establishing more treatment and prevention programs will also be priorities". Seems to be what politicians have been saying for at least three decades now. If these are the most original thoughts these two have on the issues of drug trafficking and drug abuse, then we're no closer to solving the problem than we were back in the 90s when crack cocaine was the epidemic. We really need to begin demanding more original thought from those we elect to office. We also need to begin to accept that each of us is part of the solution to a problem that government cannot solve.

  4. What is with the bias exclusion of the only candidate that made sense, Rex Bell? The Democrat and Republican Party have created this problem, why on earth would anyone believe they are able to fix it without pushing government into matters it doesn't belong?

  5. This is what happens when daddy hands over a business to his moron son and thinks that everything will be ok. this bankruptcy is nothing more than Gary pulling the strings to never pay the creditors that he and his son have ripped off. they are scum and they know it.