Easley, SC — The battle over who should own a chihuahua in Easley that got loose in 2012 is now over, according to a ruling by a magistrate judge in Easley.
Lucy the chihuahua was reunited with her original owners Thursday after a judge ruled the dog as property, and under South Carolina property laws, should be returned to the Blanton family, who say the dog got loose when they were on vacation in May 2012.
Lucy ended up a few miles away at the home of David and Trisha Watson, who say they worked to find the dog’s owners, and when they were unsuccessful, kept her as their own and called her Gracie.
Nearly three years later, the dog is now back in the custody of its original owners. The case saw multiple hearings, including one in 2013 where a magistrate judge determined that the original complaint filed by the Blantons was incorrect, gave their attorney time in court to amend the paperwork, but he did not and the judge threw out the case.
Since then, the Blantons re-filed a lawsuit against the Watsons, and a judge last week determined the dog needed to go back to its original owners. The Watsons say they are devastated.
“When you’re our age and you have a dog, for some reason, it’s more than an animal … it becomes part of your family,” said Trisha Watson.
The Blantons said they are happy Lucy is back home with them.
“It’s very emotional, it’s been a long fight,” said Kerri Blanton. The fight for the dog became heated at times.
The Watsons say they originally decided to give the dog back, but demanded payment from the Blantons for veterinary costs incurred while the dog was in their care. They say the Blantons refused to pay.
The judge ruled that in order for the dog to return to the Blantons, they would have to pay $496 for the costs incurred. The Watsons say that is a fraction of the money spent on the chihuahua in the time she was in their care.
The Watsons said they decided to fight for Lucy when they learned of alleged mistreatment of the dog, a claim the Blantons and their friends flatly denied through the course of the case.
The Watsons have started a GoFundMe page detailing those allegations and asking for money to save Gracie, claiming she is sick, and also for donations to change South Carolina’s “outdated” animal laws. (http://www.gofundme.com/jgei84)
The Blantons say Lucy has taken to their home quite naturally again.
“She was very excited to see all the kids,” said Keith Blanton. “Just snuggling and sitting and sleeping, but she’s doing real good.”
The Watsons say their attorney has filed a motion to reconsider the outcome of the case with a judge.