Northern Ireland

Judge makes dog-sitter give back pet to owner

A dog-sitter has been ordered by the courts to hand back a family pet which became the subject of a legal wrangle after they refused to return it to its owner.

The woman who owned the dog returned after two weeks away to collect her pet, Charlie, but the person minding him refused to hand him over.

Repeated attempts to have the schnauzer terrier returned were refused.

The owner then took legal action, which ended up in the courts.

On Thursday, a Belfast County Court judge granted an injunction ordering the return of Charlie to his owner.

Image caption Charlie, a two-year-old schnauzer terrier, was returned to his owner on Friday

The owner's solicitor, Catriona Hutton, said her client had been distressed by the refusal of the defendant to return the family pet to its home.

"I have never in my experience had an injunction for the recovery of a dog, but a dog is an asset, and of course to a family a dog is an asset in more ways than one," she said.

"It is property and somebody was withholding the property, so therefore we had no other option, given that the pre-proceedings wouldn't work, but to go to court."

Ms Hutton said her client had originally approached her after she had texted the dog sitter and contacted the police in a bid to be reunited with Charlie.

The dog had been left with a friend when the woman went on a two-week break.

"The client advised that the police were unable to do anything and some pre-proceedings were entered into, unfortunately we couldn't get the dog back," she said.

"Thereafter we made an application for a mandatory injunction in order to compel the court to have the dog recovered.

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Media captionCharlie's family said they were delighted to have him home

"We made the case that we felt the dog was not going to be returned and we had proof of ownership exhibited such as the dog's registration and so forth and the judge felt we had proved ownership to the court."

The judge said the application was unusual but granted the injunction order.

The repeated attempts to have the two-year-old dog returned were also taken into account.

Charlie was returned to her owner on Friday. His family said they were delighted to have him home and would spoil him with plenty of treats.

"The injunction was served last night and my client attended with the police this morning at the property in order to recover the dog and the dog was provided to my client," Ms Hutton added.

"My client was full of tears...but delighted, because she had missed her pet."

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