Volume 51, Number 34

fourteen pages

Byrdstown, Tennessee 38549 -- Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dogs reunited with rightful owner

By: Amanda Hill Bond
Circuit Court Judge Amy
Hollars ordered the Pickett
County Humane Society to return
two cocker spaniel dogs
to their owner last week, ending
the five-month-long dog
controversy.
The two dogs were found at
large by Pickett County Humane
Society (PAWS) volunteers
back in January.
According to a press release
from PAWS, volunteers tried
to locate the dogs’ owner and
claimed the dogs were in poor
condition and needed veterinarian
care and grooming.
The dogs received the care
and PAWS President Cathy
Crockett contacted the Pickett
County Sheriff’s Department
and advised that she
had the dogs and felt they
should not be returned. She
also stated that the owner of
the dogs would have to reimburse
PAWS for their expenses.
The owner of the
dogs, Donnie Smith, was contacted
and he stated he
wanted his dogs back but
would not reimburse them.
According to court record,
on January 30th General Sessions
Judge Ronnie Zachary
heard the case where Mr.
Smith was asking for writ of
possession ordering to return
the dogs. Judge Zachary ordered
Crockett to return dogs
but she advised the court that
she didn’t intend on returning
them. Crockett was then
found in contempt of court
and was placed in jail for a
few hours.
That hearing also led to a
federal lawsuit against Judge
Zachary claiming that he violated
Crockett’s constitutional
rights because he is a non-attorney
judge. The date for
that hearing is set for next
April and will be heard by
Judge Aleta Trauger.
Another hearing was set
for February 13th and was
heard by Fentress County
General Sessions Judge Todd
Burnett. Judge Burnett ruled
on the original motion that
the dogs be returned and the
ruling was appealed by Mrs.
Crockett.
Once an appeal is made in
General Sessions, it goes into
Circuit Court and was scheduled
for June 26th.
In the meantime, PAWS
filed a criminal warrant in
March on Mr. Smith claiming
cruelty to animals. Judge
Burnett once again heard the
case but found no evidence to
support the claim and dismissed
the criminal charge.
In the June hearing under
Circuit Court Judge Amy Hollars,
she found that the
statute provided PAWS no
legal authority to keep the
dogs from the owner. The
statute gives the owner, not
the organization the right to
keep or forfeit the animal
after ownership is determined.
She ordered the dogs to be
returned to Mr. Smith as soon
as possible.
Snowflake and Midnight
were reunited with Smith on
Friday, July 3rd and Smith
stated to the PRESS, “When
they first saw me, they couldn’t
keep from knocking me
down with kisses and affection.
I’m so glad I’ve got them
back, I’ve missed them so
much during those five
months.”

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