(Indianapolis, Ind.) - A court battle over a dog was settled Wednesday by the Indiana Court of Appeals.
The case began in Dearborn County in April 2010 when a New Trenton man gave his wife a German shepherd puppy. In September of 2011, the man was diagnosed with cancer, according to the court’s opinion. With he and his wife unable to care for the dog, the couple gave the puppy named Kaizer to their niece.
In June 2012, the man got into better health, and asked for Kaizer to be returned. However, the niece refused, saying her family had become too attached with the pup.
The parties took the dispute to Dearborn Superior Court II to be sorted out by Judge Sally Blankenship without lawyers. The niece told the judge the couple did initially ask that Kaizer be returned when the original owner recovered, but they later gave her permanent custody of after seeing how attached her family had become with the animal.
The niece had also presented a letter from another witness stating that the original owners had kept the dog in a small cage for long periods of time and were primarily interested in using it to breed puppies.
Blankenship awarded custody to the niece.
Taking the case to the Indiana Court of Appeals, the plaintiffs argued that they have a right to own Kaizer and breed the dog if they wish. They also contended that they were not given the opportunity to cross-examine the witness who wrote letters stating that Kaizer was caged.
The Court of Appeals ruled this week that Kaizer will stay with the niece. The opinion was written by former Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard, who said that cross examination was never requested.
“Judge Blankenship went out of her way to assist both parties as they worked their way through a bench trial without lawyers, and she doubtless would have entertained such a request with the same good will she demonstrated throughout,” Shepard wrote.
The full Court of Appeals opinion can be read here.