Save StitchI’m not very good at elephants in a room. I am not OK with lies. I am not OK with abuse of any kind – human or animal (as you know from my Humane Society post). And I believe that we can be the change we want to see in the world.

A dog is NOT a bicycle. Makes sense, right? Wrong. In the US court system, a dog is very much like a bicycle. It is property, nothing more and nothing less. As my friend Hollye has learned in the most nightmarish way.

Hollye’s a blogger, writer and editor. Mother and new grandmother. A talented musician with a fabulous husband and kids. The Dexter family has the sort of talent that just oozes from every pore. It’s inspiring.

Hollye and her husband, Troy, have spent everything they have, financially and emotionally, in court the last TWO AND A HALF YEARS to fight to keep Stitch, the abused French Bulldog they legally adopted, from being returned to people who mistreated him. Because dogs are like bicycles. Or something.

A teenage actress was given Stitch as a puppy, but she would go off partying for days and days, leaving Stitch locked indoors. He’d have to go to the bathroom on the floor because he was alone and had no way to get outside. She once brought him to a party, a wild one, and he ended up breaking through a glass window to try and escape. Stitch needed a better home, and the teenager’s mother stepped in and found him one.

Hollye and Troy legally adopted the year old pup, who their youngest son, then a preschooler, had fallen in love with. They had him microchipped, vaccinated (he’d never had proper shots) and were giving him the home he needed. A safe one. Where he wouldn’t have to worry about where he could go to the bathroom – vaccinations, access to a place to go to the bathroom, proper food – these things shouldn’t be luxuries, should they?

Within weeks, the girl’s adult boyfriend began harassing them and saying Stitch was his dog and they’d stolen him. He filed police reports. Hollye had a nonprofit using music as therapy to help foster children – even a false police record could put that at risk. They brought the dog back to the girl’s mother, asking her to hold onto him while they cleared this up. The boyfriend took the dog from the house and disappeared with him before they could.

TWO YEARS LATER, they got a call. From Nevada City. Ten hours north of Los Angeles. Stitch had been found abandoned on a highway. He had a collar with a disconnected number along with a cigarette burn in his skin.

Animal control scanned the microchip and found them. They drove up and brought him back to LA. They got him vet care, medications and special food (Frenchies are high maintenance, lovable, but high maintenance – I know.). Once again, Stitch and their four-year-old son were connected at the hip.Save Stitch - A Dog Is Not A Bicycle

And then, the guy reappeared. This time the harassment went further.

He sued them for $25,000 and charged them with theft and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

They spent a YEAR AND A HALF in court. They played by the rules even when others didn’t:

Under oath, the actress lied and said Stitch wasn’t ever hers. There is video evidence that proves she lied but it they weren’t able to show it in court. (Hollye shared the incident on her blog, here.)

The “owner” told the court he’d lost the dog at least 5 times in Northern CA, and twice more in Los Angeles. As a Frenchie owner, I will tell you they aren’t Darwin’s finest (I love my dog but it’s a fact). They can’t survive in heat and they’re really indoor dogs given their breathing issues and allergies. But this guy said the last time he lost Stitch he didn’t look for days because he “figured he’d turn up.”

What about the boy who bought the puppy and gave it to the girl? Well, he wouldn’t testify as he was out of state in rehab. And the girl’s mother wouldn’t speak because it could damage her relationship with her daughter.

On June 2, 2011, the Dexters lost the trial on a 150 year old Lost Property Statute. “Even if neglected, property must be returned to its original owner – an owner who, as per the Judge’s statement, had no real evidence of ownership.”

(As for the $25,000 for emotional distress, the judge ruled they owed him nothing. But he was to pay them back for all the years of Stitch’s vet bills. He hasn’t paid them a penny.)

They appealed IMMEDIATELY. There was no way they could let him return to a life of neglect. A life that found him abandoned on a highway with cigarette burns.

On June 6th, the appeal was filed, and in what’s sort of like dog bail, they paid the courts so that they could keep Stitch until the hearings.

Almost a year to the date, June 7, 2012, Stitch’s fate will be determined in the Los Angeles Court of Appeals. The Dexters are fighting to change the legal rights of domestic pets in this country.

As Hollye says, “I would never withhold a dog from someone I believed owned and truly loved him, but in this case, I don’t believe either to be true. Even the judge wrote in his final ruling that the plaintiff’s case ‘lacked credibility’ and that there was ‘no physical proof’ of ownership.'” But “as the opposing attorney used in his argument against us, if you leave your bicycle at the beach and three weeks later you see someone else riding your bicycle, they are obligated to give it back to you.”

Property doesn’t feel the pain of a cigarette burned into its skin. Stitch did.

“So I’m fighting. I’m fighting for Stitch because I fear what would happen to him in this guy’s care.”

I believe in the power of the blogosphere, and I ask you to help me share Stitch’s story. (For media inquiries, please feel free to contact me and I can give you more info.)

Like Stitchy the Wonder Dog on Facebook and follow him at his brand, spanking new twitter handle @SaveStitch to show your solidarity for animal rights.

And please post and share the blog button on the top right side of this page.

A DOG IS NOT A BICYCLE. Help us Save Stitch.

Save StitchI don’t want to get discouraged. I want to believe that the more we talk about this, the more thigs can change. From the The Humane Society (HSUS) Puppy Mill Action Week to the huge custody suits being waged in New York by Craig Dershowitz, a man trying to keep the dog he loves. Again and again, we see people are ready for changes in the law. A change is going to come. It must.


55 thoughts on “Save Stitch: A Dog Is NOT A Bicycle

  1. Alexandra

    Incredible story, I can’t get over the things people do. Yes, of course, I will tweet this out.

    That poor dog, he just wants a home. Heartbreaking.

    1. alexandra Post author

      You’re the best. He’s a sweet pup and a wonderful family. I don’t know how they’ve gotten through this but I want them to end it with him in their arms.

    2. Renee Peters

      The people who cared for and love him should take him and hide him. Say he died. Go to the vet, have him remove the friggin chip, and flush it. Then, they got a dog from a friend in another state who “looks just like Stitch”. There are laws in NY against animal cruelty. The dog’s history should speak for itself. See how the dog acts with the jerks / and how he acts with the loving family he has. Leave him with his loving family. Dogs have loving, beating hearts . They are not property. They are part of someone’s family. If a child was abused, it would be taken away from the parents and given to foster care. JUDGE, DO SOMETHING BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE. DO THE RIGHT THING. Let this dog live it’s life in peace and love.

    3. Yooni

      Stitch needs a true loving family a family that would love him forever Stitch does not deserve to be treated this way.No dog ever should be treated this way.

    1. alexandra Post author

      It does feel like forever. They do have him, they’ve paid the courts in order to keep him through the appeal, but they don’t have the security of knowing this is over and he’s home for good. Safe and sound.

    1. alexandra Post author

      As a rescue owner, I think this issue is SO scary. I’ve seen the baggage they come with. I’ve adopted legally, but see how easily what happened here could happen to someone else.

  2. Erika

    Why didn’t the courts take into consideration the legal adoption papers, the police reports, etc? If Stitch has a microchip why isn’t that considered? What is going on in the courts? I work in the court system in North Carolina and I just don’t get it. With all that paperwork it would seem that ownership has been proven time and again. I’ll share this on my twitter and fb. I just don’t understand. States vary greatly on some of these laws which should be so much simpler and more common sense. Frustrating! I hope they get to keep Stitch and the guy who is trying to claim him gives up and goes away. What’s really the story behind wanting to keep a dog he cares nothing about? UGH!

    1. alexandra Post author

      All good points. These issues were all brought up in court and it is a frustrating reality that they because this guy had had possession of the dog, the Lost Property Laws would give him property rights even though he was never the legal owner. It’s a very sad situation and they were truly shocked by the judge’s ruling. Hollye shares more about that on her blog.

  3. HillyG

    This brought tears to my eyes! I have two dogs and my oldest, Sparky, has had a rough life. He was abused in his first home; and allowed to run free after he was given to a 19 year old kid. The kid poured acid on Sparky and let him roam free – it was no surprise that he was hit by a car. I got a call from Netanya Loves Animals (we live in Israel) asking me to rehabilitate the dog – I had just started dating my husband and decided if he was going to fall in love with me, he needed to fall in love with Sparky. Two months after fostering Sparky, we decided to adopt him. Three months after we adopted him, the 19 year old kid went to the police to file a report that his dog was missing. He was notified days after Sparky was hit by a car and he asked if he could have the dog back – the organization said no. Since we had proof that he had acid poured on him, he was told to take a hike by the police and by the organization. That was four years ago and Sparky is my forever dog. I can’t imagine life without him.

    Fight and fight hard. Give it everything you’ve got and I’ll put out great vibes for you!

    1. alexandra Post author

      I am so glad Sparky found you and you found Sparky – and that because of the organization between you he wasn’t able to get the dog back. Can’t believe he came requesting the dog back! I’ll pass your kind words on to Hollye. And you can always keep up with the case and their pursuit of changing the animals as property laws on the Stitchy Facebook page (Link in the bottom of the blog post).

      1. HillyG

        I found it on Facebook and I sent it around on Facebook. My Mom runs a dog rescue organization and she passed the story around to the people she knows, too. My Dad (who doesn’t really like animals) also passed around Stitch’s story because, as he said, you don’t have to like animals but they are living creatures that should be treated with respect. I’ll keep doing what I can for Hollye – her story just broke my heart! My husband started crying when he read it.

  4. Kat

    This is so sad!! I wonder why the “owner” is fighting so hard for a dog he doesn’t bother looking for when it’s lost. I hope the right owners get to keep that sweet pup!

  5. Pingback: Have You Heard About Stitch? |

    1. eileen sokolowski

      I think Stitch hould go to a loving home as he give unconditional love that he is not getting. The law is very wrong to give him back to the abused owner. I hope somehow Stitch is able to go to a loving home where he is safe. The laws have to be changed regarding animals, they are not property and have rights too. Hugs for Stitch and may God rule in your favor that you do not go back to that bad owner but to the one who knows how to care, love and treat you.

    2. Serena

      If only we could find out who this teen actress is and then let her publicist know we’re going public with the story….

  6. kristine darmohray

    These laws need to change. there are vet records to show that the adopters took care of the dog whereas the otiginal owners did not – there is evidence of abuse – the dog needs ot be on a stable, calm, appropriate and loving environment – Stitch needs to be awarded to this couple and their son. They are not nearly as wealthy as the abusers, yet they fight and rack up court costs, plus for the care of the dog – this is sincerity and honesty and integrity at its finest. ANIMALS ARE NOT THINGS – they are living creatures who want nothing more than a safe adn secure home – and the domestic animalswe keep as pets deserve love and respect and kindness, as do our children. it is plainly clear who the more responsible and caring party is – don’t let Stitch and his adopted family suffer any more. AWARD GUARDIANSHIP/OWNERSHIP TO hOLLY AND TROY AND THEIR LITTLE BOY!! while you are at it, they should not owe a dime of court costs -don’t let themgo bankrupt for soing the right thing. P.S. WHAT KIND OF SHELTER ADOPTS THEN RELEASED THE ADOPTERS’ NAMES TO PREVIOUS OWNERS???? IT IS NOT COMMON PROCEDURE IN PA – IN FACT IT IS TO PROTECT THE ANIMAL – ISN’T IT A SHAME – A TRAVESTY – THAT SO CALLED CELEBRITIES DON’T HAVE TO FOLLOW THE RULES. These former owners are neglectful adn abusive, Michael Vick is a sick twisted SOB,and they got away with it for years. NO MORE PLEASE!! Thank you

  7. Aryanna

    I love animals especially dogs and I can’t imagine someone I know to do this and I do not know how someone else can do this.

  8. Catherine E Davis

    Stitch is microchipped with your name/address. The idiot that claims to have “lost” him has no proof of ownership. How can the court award the dog to him with these facts? Stitch is your dog and that fool should leave him where he is, in a safe home where he is loved and cared for. As for the cigarette burn, that would be enough for me to NEVER let that man have the dog back even if he had proof of ownership, which he doesn’t. Bottom line: he has no proof of ownership!! WTH is the matter with this judge? You have a microchip, vet bills, pics of your child growing up with the dog. Sounds like proof of ownership to me!!

  9. Maggee Carroll

    Who are these people, Actress + Mother, who will not come forward to help- are they afraid of the guy who is claiming to own him if so “one act say’s a thousand words” If they are afraid of him what chance does this lovely dog have with him?

    Have you put a “SOS” out to ask if anyone remembers selling this little fellow to the actress or her boyfriend who maybe mentioned her name because he was buying the dog as a gift for her? If so hopefully they will contact you and may have the name or description of who bought the dog. I mean if she is an actress wouldn’t someone remember her face or her name? Good luck and God Bless I hope this little fellow gets to stay with the people who love him. Maggee

  10. Alexiss

    Wow, Thats horrable, made me cry, So I did something good and went to the humane society and got a dog like stitch and adopted it. I love him to death, I will share this everywhere. G+, twitter, facebook, Myspace (it works), and many places along the pet stores and humane societies and pounds.

  11. Stefanie

    Reveal the actress!! The bad publicity would make them back off!! The public and media wouldnt support them if it “leaked” who it was!!

  12. Kim Farnsworth

    This Frenchie is a sentient being, not material property. He has been abandoned multiple times and clearly had original unfit owners. Let him live out the rest of his life in peace, and do not let him be a pawn.

  13. Tally

    Is there a petition online that I can sign and we can send to the courts? If we can get a lot of signatures, we might be able to make a difference! This is so wrong in so many ways! Dogs are not property! Stitch should go to the family that loves and cares for him! If I were in LA, I would go out there on the 7th and make some noise, but I’m in Utah… 😦 I will share this, but please let me know what I can do to help more!

  14. Kat

    Hi just wanted to know if you could please sen me more info, I would like to share it with the local news- Univision thank you

  15. Cherie Tripp

    This monster just wants attention, he is a typical alpha male personality and while he doesn’t want the dog he does not want to lose to anyone. If you ask me he is nothing but a loser. They should have ran with the defense for the dog as Hollye has his papers, his records, and his chip is in their name, so legally he is Hollye’s dog. That guy is nothing but destroying a life that just wants to go live and be happy.
    I cry for justice for Stitch!!! I have shared already and I beg that more people do so….. As we proved with Snoopy, if we come together as a force to be reckoned with then we can prevail for the just and proper outcome!!!!

  16. Kathy Kmiotek

    Let’s get out of the “DARK” ages…it’s time to change these ridiculous laws and start protecting our animals/pets. This poor dog belongs with this wonderful family who love and take care of him. The others have proven to be the worst possible pick to own a pet much less a bicycle! Please help this poor dog and do the right thing by him.

  17. Bernadette

    Create a petition and have people sign it. It’s ridiculous that no one cares about this dog in the legal system.

    1. alexandra Post author

      Thanks, Bernadette. A petition was created over a year ago and many signed. I believe they’ve sent it off to their local congresspeople yesterday. The appeals hearing is this Thursday, June 7th. We’ll know whether Stitch is safe and sound come Thursday. It’s going to be a long week…

  18. Ellen

    I am so happy that Stitch has someone like you in his corner. I have shared this post and I just pray that this turns out the best for Stitch. I just do not understand how they can return Stitch to this guy. And what is the reason he keeps coming back for him…not because he loves Stitch. I truly pray that Stitch can finally have the peace and love he deserves. You are good people…thank you for caring. Others might have given up by now. Oh I so hope this turns out the way it should.

  19. tommy lee

    iam very emotional when i read stuff like this.please let me explain. i rescue animals of all kinds,NON-PROFIT. 2 years ago, i had to make a choice which was one of the hardest things i had to do.i was ordered by the courts,after trying to fight this,but was made to put down my lab-hound mix dog because he had bitten and scratched someone after they were exiting our garage with stolen scrap metal. they didnt do nothing to him because his mother was a dispatcher for the sheriff’s dept.this guy is still running around doing his mischeif behaviors while my dog(by the way, his name was ”david lee” as in not only my last name, but david lee roth, from van halen.)is in heaven waiting on me.thank you.. i do strongly agree that all pets should be hugged and loved,not used and abused !!!!

  20. Veronica Wise

    I definitely think you.all should keep Stitch. He cannot stay with that abusive person he obviously does not love Stitch or care for him!

  21. Becky

    Why isn’t anyone pursuing criminal charges against the guy for the condition of the dog when found? Even if the dog is property it is still against the law to torture them. Also it seems that their original adoption of which there is a record should have held up in that court. Particularly since the guy didn’t have any proof of ownership and they do in the form of that adoption. What is missing here?

  22. Michael Grulich

    You guys are doing something right, and wonderful. It makes me a little more proud to be human when I see people go out their way to help a being like Stitch or any animal for that matter. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have signed the petition, shared on my Facebook, and will bring all of my friends in line behind me. If there is anything else I can do, I will not hesitate. Again, thank you for all that you are doing.

  23. crystlady

    Poor sweet lil Stitch! I can’t believe how horrifically cold and insane people are to animals! Whoever the lil ‘B’ actress is and her pc of sh*% boyfriend are both need to be beaten and burned just like they have done to the poor baby. See how they like it. God please let the judge make the right decision to give Stitch to the true loving owners and never have to endure the horrible abuse ever again.

  24. Alexiss

    Stich needs to be in the good home, stop abuse! THIS will be the biggest animal abuse case ever! eff der abusers

  25. Penny Spradlin

    Please, keep fighting for this dog. He don’t deserve this. I can tell he is happy, so why can’t everyone else. Don’t ever stop fighting.
    The poor thing deserves to be happy.

  26. Jeannette Cheeks

    It sickens me the way many animals are treated dogs included. We are the happy parents of 8 Boston Terriers and have the sad task of having to re home one of our kids. I worry so about whom his new family will be. Even with great screening techniques it is still difficult to really know.
    For Stitch, I just want to throttle the guy who claims him and the court system for caving on such a technicality. What happened to wreckless endangerment, animal abuse? I will also forward this on.
    What other, actions can be taken to help change our laws?

  27. Jenn

    I’m not familiar with the legal system (went to business school, not to law school), but there are a lot of things (the dog owner says) that can’t be proved either. Doesn’t the judge -when there are a lot of questions/doubts- have the right to decide for the adopting family?

    And yes, we’d all love to know the name of the so-called actress. Where are the paparazzi?!

  28. GREG

    If this ever happend to me,I would just say the dog “got out” again and you looked but never found him and I just thought “oh he’ll just show up” but really he is over at a good friends or relatives house for the remainder of his life..and at least you know he wont be abused anymore and is in a loving home that you can go see him anytime you want to

  29. Pingback: Save Stitch: A Dog Is STILL Not A Bicycle | Alexandra Wrote

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