A custody battle is under way between two sides who rescued Obie, a dachshund who once tipped the scales at 77 pounds and made headlines all around the world.
Back in September, Obie's quest to lose weight resulted in local and national media appearances, and a Facebook page quickly earned tens of thousands of fans.
The dog, considered by many to be the world's fattest dachshund, was originally given to a rescue organization by a Puyallup, WA, couple who was unable to care for him.
After reading about the dog on the Oregon Dachshund Rescue's Facebook page in September, Obie's foster mom, Nora Vanatta, said she agreed to take Obie in. At that point, she said, she hadn't even seen a photo of Obie yet.
In an interview last month, Vanatta said Obie lost 10 pounds under her care, with a goal of dropping 40 pounds total.
However, Geordie Duckler, an attorney for Oregon Dachshund Rescue Inc., said the non-profit organization filed papers in Washington County Circuit Court to have the dog returned. In a news release, the attorney said Vanatta has refused to relinquish the dog as legally required.
A hearing on the matter has been set for Oct. 29 in front of a judge.
The attorney alleges Vanatta has not provided Obie with the manner of veterinary care promised and required. Instead, the rescue organization claims the woman has been "exploiting him for the sensationalistic promotional value of his unusual obesity, earning money off his public exhibition on national and regional television shows."
Vanatta has posted updates about the situation on her Facebook page. She said those claims are untrue.
"I made it clear that this was a positive thing and that it wasn't about bashing the previous owners or exploiting a fat dog," she said. "I turned down several media requests because I didn't like where they wanted to go with the story. Obie has a story and a mission to share and help other people."
Vanatta said in a telephone interview Wednesday night that Obie has bonded with her and her other dogs. Vanatta doesn't believe the motives of Oregon Dachshund Rescue are sincere. She alleged that ODR's interest in the dog may revolve around money since a PayPal account for the dog's care that Vanatta controls currently has a balance around $10,000.
"I'm not here to badmouth ODR. I just want what's best of Obie," said Vanatta during the phone interview. "It concerns me that he got famous and ODR had zero concerns and now all of sudden they think I'm mistreating him and they want him back."
Vanatta said email correspondence between her and ODR will refute the accusations against her.
"I'm going to show (the judge) all the times I've taken Obie to the vet and I'm going to show him some parts of the Facebook page about how well he's doing," said Vanatta. "There's just no reason to take him away; he's doing well."
Duckler requested that if Vanatta does not return Obie, the sheriff's department will "seize him and deliver him back to ODR."
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