A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Abused Dog Tug-of-War

When Patrick the pit bull was found, starved and barely breathing, in a trash bag after being dropped down a garbage chute, everyone seemed united on his behalf. But now the dog is caught up in a custody battle.

“His eyelids were moving a little,” said animal control officer Arthur Skinner when he first saw Patrick on March 16th in the trash pile of a New Jersey apartment building. “But he was just lifeless — his body hung there when we picked him up.”

The dog was rushed to the Garden State Veterinary Specialists hospital for emergency care, and the following day, St. Patrick’s Day, the staff named him Patrick.

In the weeks that followed, Patrick slowly recovered, put on some weight, and captured hearts all across the country. Several Facebook pages were set up in his honor, and donations were collected to pay for his care. Meanwhile, the person who allegedly abused him so badly was taken into custody, and appeared in court last Friday to plead not guilty.

But now Patrick finds himself in the middle of a custody battle between the City of Newark, which argues that Patrick should stay at the hospital where he’s being cared for and where he has bonded with the staff, and the Association of Humane Societies (AHS) which holds the animal control contract with the city and wants to move Patrick to the Popcorn Park Zoo, a wildlife rescue/animal sanctuary that’s partly open to the public as a petting zoo.

Basically, this is a fight over the direction of animal care and control in the coming years. Three weeks ago, Mayor Cory Booker of Newark announced that he wanted to wanted to build “Patrick’s Place,” a modern, state-of-the-art, no-kill shelter for homeless pets and to help the city on its way toward a time when there would be no homeless pets. He invited the public to join him in donating toward the costs of this new project.

It seems that the AHS felt upstaged by the Mayor, and doesn’t want to lose control of current animal control policy. So it filed a 40-page motion in state Superior Court to overturn a judge’s order that ruled Patrick should remain at Garden State Veterinary Specialists until the animal cruelty case against his former owner, Kisha Curtis, is over because the hospital is located in the same town as the trial.

Does it make sense to move Patrick from the hospital where he’s being cared for by a loving staff? We’d say no.

Does it make sense that the legal moves of the AHS are more to do with who controls what, along with concerns about the Mayor’s new no-kill initiative? We’d say yes.