Dog Custody Battle Crosses State Lines

For seven months, a Tennessee family had been looking for their stolen dog, Ginger. The search ended 460 miles away in Palos Park, Illinois. Even though the McGee family knows where their red and white Siberian husky is, they can’t bring her home.

The McGees first reported that Ginger was missing in December. Two weeks later, the family learned that a neighbor had abducted their dog. The woman didn’t think that dogs should be bred. She is accused of taking Ginger to an animal hospital, having her spayed and microchipped for identification. The neighbor then put Ginger in a shelter. The dog was then sent to a Chicago animal shelter where another family adopted her.

A Palos Park police officer met with the family that adopted Ginger to see if they would return her to the McGees. The family had become quite close to the dog and was not willing to give her up. The police officer then contacted the state’s attorney’s office to see if there could be a court order obtained to remove the dog. The state’s attorney’s office said that the officer could not get involved because there was no criminal intent.

From Chicago Tribune:

“Basically they said that the McGees have to hire a private attorney in Illinois and take it up in civil court. According to our state’s attorney, there is no proof of ownership because the McGees did not microchip the dog,” Campbell [Palos Park police officer] said.

Police Chief Joe Miller said his department can’t resolve it without a court order.

“We can’t just go into someone’s house and remove their dog without a court order. They adopted the dog through legal channels and in good faith. It’s a case with multiple victims,” Miller said.

“It’s a sad situation all the way around,” Campbell said. “She is currently in a home where she is loved and being cared for. However, she legally belongs to the McGees, and they have all the paperwork to prove it.

“The couple who took her in felt they were doing a good thing by adopting her from the Anti-Cruelty Society, and they became very attached to her.

They didn’t do anything wrong, and they will be heartbroken if she has to go back to Tennessee.”

Chip McGee said he wants the state’s attorney’s office to seek a court order to get his dog returned.

“What does it take to get the authorities in Illinois to uphold the law? If this was somebody’s stolen Lexus in their driveway, they would have gone in and removed it as soon as they found it,” he said.

“It just doesn’t make sense — we are the victims. Our dog was stolen, they arrested the suspect and now we are supposed to pay for an attorney to get her back?”

Yet another story that shows how important microchipping is.

28 Responses to “Dog Custody Battle Crosses State Lines”

  1. Lynne says:

    “The woman didn’t think that dogs should be bred.”

    Does that mean the original family had allowed Ginger to breed indiscriminately? Was the neighbor tired of an endless parade of unwanted puppies? Or was she simply a nutbar inserting her own beliefs into someone else’s life?

  2. Kevin says:

    I am not totally against microchipping pets but there are some new studies about health issues. I still think it’s a good idea but please make yourself aware of the issues for your own education.

  3. Merlin says:

    My Australian friend says that there they tatoo the ear of the cat or dog. If someone had issues with microchipping, there are other ways of marking and registering a pet.

  4. Carol Johnson says:

    I spend most weekends doing animal rescue work. Sadly, we can save only a few….and mostly the small ones. Big dogs have little chance…and one of the most common dogs in the shelter are huskies. Most leave in a plastic bag.

    My point….we do not need another backyard breeder. ..or someone too irresponsible to get their pet fixed.

    I am not condoning theft…but I also do not think they sound like very responsible pet owners….responsible ones spay and neuter.

  5. Clauzilla says:

    I want to add something here, it is not up to neighbors to decide if its “right” for a person to breed their dog. There are many responsible owners that choose not to spay or neuter their pets. Its only in America that people routinely spay and nueter. In other countries such as Germany people are responsible and keep control over their pets. So just because a person does not spay or neuter does not mean that they can’t make sure their animal doesn’t breed. Show people do it all the time, cops do it. A person has no right to steal a dog, if the dog was being treated bad call ACO and have them come out. If I was the owner I would sue all involved parties. I can’t however blame the people that adopted the pet if they didn’t know the dog was stolen in the first place.

  6. Kathy says:

    I have to agree with Carol Johnson, in this area too most big dogs leave in a plastic bag. Huskies are bred for pulling sleds, if a person has no sled to pull the Huskie is going to be very bored and will need much more exercise than most people can provide. All dogs should be spayed and neutered, there are plenty of irresponsible owners who will continue to provide more and there will never be a shortage. I say leave the dog where it is, for the dog’s sake.

  7. 2CatMOM says:

    The couple in Illinois are in receipt of stolen property. They may love the dog, but it’s not their’s to keep.

    We have no idea of what the motivations of the neighbor were, but the bottom line is she stole some one else’s property. If she felt the animal was maltreated, then call the authorities. What if someone decided they didn’t like the way you took care of your pet? (Gasp - they use clumping litter, I don’t like that so I’ll steal their cats; they keep that poor cat in the house all day, that isn’t natural).

  8. Sandy says:

    If you are in possession of a stolen car or jewelry, and the original owner is found, you do not keep it just because you paid for it. The new owners should realize how heartbroken they would be if they lost a pet that way, and return the dog. If the original owners were irresponsible pet owners they would not have expended that amount of time and money to find their pet. It may be they showed the dog and were responsible breeders(yes there are such people) and as for it being a Huskie…I have a dear friend that works her Huskies in obedience trials and does very well with them. They are great pets and I would adopt one in a minute. They are very well behaved. One cannot make an assumption about the original owners. An early poster was right…if there was a problem call animal control. This person took it on herself to take this animal and spay it. What if it had died? There are often medical reasons not to spay or neuter. This was wrong and it is wrong not to return the dog.

  9. the Asocial Ape says:

    dogs _shouldn’t_ be bred. all dogs, cats, bunnies, hogs, &c. should be spayed/neutered. if their guardian doesn’t do that, they are no more entitled to share their lives with the animal than is someone who doesn;t take the animal to vet when it’s sick.
    i don;t know that the ppl wit the dog now are the best family for him to be with, but his original family is certainly not worthy of being his guardians.

    my wife and i have worked with feral cats for years, and we’ve often encountered sick f**ks who ‘own’ cats that live outside and breed and breed and breed, with drippy eyes, runny noses, and filthy fur. we have no compunctions about trapping those cats and taking them to the shelter or fixing them and placing them in loving homes.

    people who don’t take care of their animals have no right to be with them.

  10. Solly says:

    I’m glad the Huskie is loved and has a home. That’s all that matters. I’d hate to have a dog stolen but at least I would find comfort in that my dog is loved and that would be okay.

  11. JH says:

    With all due respect to a previous poster, this animal was not a stray living outside and only getting food and water and occasional shelter from the original owner. It was their PET and as such, like it or not, they had the legal right not to spay or neuter. While I am a big fan of spaying and neutering, the poster who said that there are those who do not but are still good owners is correct. I have a very good friend who is German and she and her husband have a Bichon. He is very well-treated with proper food, water, shelter, and medical care - but was not “fixed” because my friend was not advised that this was a necessary procedure for him and she was not raised in that tradition, the way many Americans born in this country are these days.

  12. straybaby says:

    “the Asocial Ape says:
    July 10th, 2007 at 6:55 pm”

    HMMM . . . my youngest cat isn’t neutered. i held off for several reasons, but i guess if you saw his *parts*, you would assume i am not entitled/worthy to own pets?

  13. trucorgi says:

    Asocial Ape - you should not be doing rescue. You have no moral or legal authority to trap and steal animals and alter them. You should familliarize yourself with the peta theft case going on in Virginia.;tref=y
    And in this case, the Rutherford County sheriff’s department charged Emily Spencer, 54, of Murfreesboro with felony theft in connection with the missing dog. She is scheduled to go on trial in August.

    It should also be pointed out that Ginger is a female. How would the neighbor know she was not spayed unless she was in season when she was stolen?

    I disagree that this case shows how important microchipping is. New information has come to light that microchipping is linked to cancer. This shows that animal rights activists will and do operate outside of the law. They need to stop. I am not a “guardian”. I am an owner.

  14. straybaby says:


    do you have any links to the chip/cancer connection? my dog is my only chipped pet as she is the most likely to land her butt in the high kill shelter (still VERY unlikely, but just in case), but was thinking of doing the cats before a cross country move . . . .

  15. trucorgi says:

    Kathy says: All dogs should be spayed and neutered

    Asocial Ape says: dogs _shouldn’t_ be bred. all dogs, cats, bunnies, hogs, &c. should be spayed/neutered.

    If ALL dogs, cats, bunnies and hogs were steralized, one generation out, they would be extinct.

  16. Pit Bull Lover says:


    Kevin’s link (above) is to a summary of one research study done on rats. 1% developed a tumor. I’d rather take that 1% risk than the immeasurable risk of losing my dog, or having her stolen, without a microchip to identify her.

  17. trucorgi says:

    straybaby says:
    do you have any links to the chip/cancer connection? my dog is my only chipped pet as she is the most likely to land her butt in the high kill shelter (still VERY unlikely, but just in case), but was thinking of doing the cats before a cross country move . . . .

    See below. This was posted to a cat list I’m on. Very concerning. I haven’t had a chance to investigate yet. All mine are chipped, even my indoor cat. Not sure if I will chip in the future. I may have to resort to tattooing my social security number on my pets. OFA requires permanent ID in the form of a chip or tattoo to register hip and eye certifications, so responsible breeders don’t have much choice. I only register my chips with AKC/CAR. I do not want a big brother company like Petdata with ties to HSUS having info in their database on the reproductive status of my animals. They sell their data. CAR is about returning lost/stolen pets to their rightful owners, not collecting data for animal rights.

    > Implanted Microchips Cause Cancer
    > By Jane Williams GFN contributing writer—
    > (For Publication in the January 2007 “American Family Voice”)
    > At the National ID Expo in Kansas City, Arkansas Animal Producer’s
    > Association
    > President Michael Steenbergen asked, “What safety studies have been
    > conducted on the chips that are inserted into animals?” His
    question was
    > met with total silence. Did these manufacturers not know, or were
    > unwilling to admit that research has confirmed that implanted
    > cause cancer?
    > Melvin T. Massey, DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) from
    > Brownsboro,Texas, brought this to the attention of the American
    > Council when he wrote, “I am a retired Equine Veterinarian and still
    > breed a few horses. Because of migration-infection s-increased risk
    > sarcoids I will not want to have microchips in my horses.”
    > The Institute of Experimental Pathology at Hannover Medical School
    > Germany reported , “An experiment using 4279 CBA/J mice of two
    > generations was carried out to investigate the influence of parental
    > preconceptual exposure to X-ray
    > radiation or to chemical carcinogens. Microchips were implanted
    > subcutaneously in the dorsolateral back for unique identification of
    > each animal.
    > The animals were kept for lifespan under standard laboratory
    > In 36 mice a circumscribed neoplasm occurred in the area of the
    > implanted
    > microchip.
    > Macroscopically, firm, pale white nodules up to 25 mm in diameter
    > with the microchip in its center were found. Macroscopically, soft
    > tissue
    > tumors such as fibrosarcoma and malignant fibrous histiocytoma were
    > detected.”
    > Ecole Nationale Veterinaire of Unite d’Anatomie Pathologique in
    > Nantes, France, reported, “Fifty-two subcutaneous tumors associated
    > microchip were collected from three carcinigenicity B6C3F1
    > Two of these 52 tumors were adenocarcinoma of the mammary gland
    > on the dorsal region forming around the chip. All the other 50 were
    > mesenchymal in origin and were difficult to classify on
    > grounds with haematoxylineosin.”
    > Marta Vascellari of Instituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle
    > Venezie at
    > Viale dell’Universita in Legnaro, Italy reported examining a 9-year-
    > male
    > French Bulldog for a subcutaneous mass located at the site of a
    > microchip implant. “The mass was confirmed as a high-grade
    > fibrosarcoma, with multifocal necrosis and peripheral lymphoid
    > aggregates.”
    > The Toxicology Department of Bayer Corporation in Stillwell, Kansas
    > reported,
    > “Tumors surrounding implanted microchip animal identification
    > were noted in two separate chronic toxicity/oncogenici ty studies
    > F344 rats.
    > The tumors occurred at a low incidence rate (approximately 1%), but
    > result
    > in the early sacrifice of most affected animals, due to tumor size
    > occasional metastases. No sex-related trends were noted.
    > All tumors occurred during the second year of the studies, were
    > in
    > the subcutaneous dorsal thoracic area (the site of microchip
    > implantation)
    > and contained embedded microchip devices. All were mesenchymal in
    > origin and consisted of the following types, listed on order of
    > frequency:
    > malignant schwannoma, fibrosarcoma, anaplastic sarcoma, and
    > sarcoma.
    > The following diagnostic techniques were employed: light
    > scanning electron microscopy, and immunohistochemistry. The
    mechanism of
    > carcinogenicity appeared to be that of foreign body induced
    > tumorigenesis. ”
    > Additional studies related to cancer tumors at the site of
    > implants have been conducted in China; however, at this time these
    > studies are
    > not available in English. At this time, no long term studies are
    > available
    > covering more than two years. It only seems logical to conclude
    that if
    > carcinogenic tumors occur within one percent of animals implanted
    > within two years of the implant that the percentage would increase
    > the
    > passage of time. Additional studies need to be conducted, but don’t
    > your
    > breath for the manufacturers of microchips to conduct such research
    > be leery of any such “research” they may conduct. Even the limited
    > research available clearly
    > indicates that implantation of microchips within an animal is
    > gambling with the animal’s well being.

  18. trucorgi says:

    Government mandated microchipping and steralization of pets takes these decision out of the hands of pet owners. There have been municipalities in “Nanny States” with an animals rights bent that have passed laws requiring this. Proper research has not been conducted to determine if this is even safe long term. The method of identification should be left to the pet’s owner, not the government. The owner is the one who will foot the bill for veterinary treatment in the case of adverse effect. The owner should be the one making the decision weather the benefit out weighs the risk.

  19. Leigh-Ann says:

    TruCorgi said:

    “You have no moral or legal authority to trap and steal animals and alter them.”

    I’ve been told by law enforcement and animal control where I live that if an animal comes onto my property, and it has no collar or microchip, that I may do with it what I please. In my case it’s always cats. If they’re fixed, I put a collar on them with a note and my phone number so I can track them if they come back. If the cat isn’t fixed, I take it and have it spayed/neutered, and then I try to adopt it out. I will post a “found cat” notice online, in the newspaper, and at the nearby vet’s office, and read all “lost cat” notices, but I will not take any animal to the city pound, and I will not let an unaltered animal wander the streets. I took one animal to the pound a couple of years ago and it either died or was euthanized, despite my promises to adopt it if no owner came forward. I figure getting a cat fixed, for free, is doing someone a favour.

    So, at least in Las Vegas, a person does have legal authority to do what they want with animals that have no ID and are wandering the streets. I’d also like to add that of the half dozen unaltered cats I’ve taken in, had fixed, and adopted out, not one single owner has come forward to claim their lost pet. The unaltered ones are invariably sick with URIs, underfed, and in general poor body condition as well.

  20. Sandy says:

    This is insane. So now it is OK to steal a pet and keep it….that’s bullshit no wonder the world is going to *ell in a handbasket. STEALING is wrong. My pets are fixed but I had a male once who was not fixed….he never once left my side or the yard …no puppies by him ….What a bunch of nazi’s in IL to think its OK to steal

    BTW this is the original Sandy in here we now have two with JUST Sandy as the name. Itchmo?

  21. the Asocial Ape says:

    straybaby said
    “…you would assume i am not entitled/worthy to own pets?”
    despite what the legal system may say, you don’t own them. they own themselves.

    trucorgi said
    “You have no moral or legal authority to trap and steal animals and alter them.”
    you don’t know the laws in my county. furthermore, legal status of my actions doesn’t concern me. as for the moral aspect, i’m quite comfortable with our actions. seeing an animal suffering and doing nothing is simple cowardice.

    trucorgi said
    “If ALL dogs, cats, bunnies and hogs were steralized, one generation out, they would be extinct.”
    if it got to that point, so be it. _homo sap_ has proven itself incapable of compassion to other creatures. better they were all gone, beyond our reach than one to suffer in a puppymill, a lab, or abattoir.

    Leigh-Ann said
    “If they’re fixed, I put a collar on them with a note and my phone number so I can track them if they come back. If the cat isn’t fixed, I take it and have it spayed/neutered, and then I try to adopt it out….”
    good for you! that’s awesome.

    Sandy said
    “STEALING is wrong.”
    that what slave owners in the southern US used to say when decent people helped their ‘property’ escape bondage.

  22. SueG says:

    So the neighbor steals the dog, supposedly with right on her side according to many commenters here. And then, after spaying, she gives it to a shelter!!! Not her problem anymore; let the overstressed shelter system deal with it. But what if the dog was adopted by mean people who ill treated her, careless people who then lost her, nice people who loved her until their first baby was born or they had to move… Neighbor-thief certainly didn’t give a d*mn about what happened to the dog in the long run. Is she going to solve the spay/neuter problem in her neighborhood by stealing every unfixed animal and dumping them all into shelter cages, homeless and terrified? She could’ve worked for a mandatory spay/neuter law in her community. The dog was STOLEN. The adopters are more victims of the theif’s misguided morality, but they have no right to retain stolen “property.” The dog should be returned to the McGees.

  23. straybaby says:

    the Asocial Ape says:
    July 11th, 2007 at 9:05 am

    “despite what the legal system may say, you don’t own them. they own themselves.”

    excuse me, i’ll re-phrase that: so you would assume i am not entitled/worthy to share living space with them because my one cat still has all his parts? and if we do not own them, they own themselves, what gives us the right to mutilate their bodies? or even trap them for that matter . . . ?

  24. the Asocial Ape says:

    straybaby - it’s not a right. it’s an obligation. we are obliged to everything we can to reduce their suffering. this includes spay/neuter, giving medical treatment as needed, giving them a safe, loving place to live, shelter from the elements, providing wholesome food and clean water, and when the time comes, a painless death.

  25. straybaby says:

    welp, you just hit the slippery slope. what IS wholesome food? are you feeding a species appropriate diet? does this mean everyone is obliged to? what consitutes a safe loving place to live? by who’s standards?

    yes, i feel personally obligated to my pets (and many others), but that does not give you the right to pass judgement as to whether or not i should share my home with them based on their s/n status. period. nor does it give me the right to pass judgement on whether you should have pets if i don’t like what you feed them or the state of your living environment. crikey, ever hear the folks that think it’s animal cruelty to have dogs in apts (you one of those?!)?! taking care of the (all) animals is but a small part of the equation. EDUCATING the public on responsible pet *whatever you want to call it* is a much bigger issue. you raise the level of awareness through means that work. stealing pets usually just pisses people off and they then write off all animal lovers as “thoses activists” and the press generally does also. it DOES NOT HELP THE ANIMALS AT ALL. NOBODY *wins* and the animals most certainly lose.

    so maybe you want to live in a petless world, but i do not. and as long as people are stealing pets based on their so called *moral obligation*, then i’ll keep supporting the law that says they are property and yes, I do own mine, TYVM!

  26. Pamela says:

    “trucorgi” and “straybaby” are very correct in what they say.

    The majority are fed up to the back teeth with extreme “animal rightists” like “asocial ape”, who are dead set peta enthusiasts who have a hidden agenda that NO animal should live with, work for or be eaten by humans, and he/she has already admitted those animals would be better off dead.

    What a typically callous attitude, when your own ilk (Peta supporters) are before the Courts for killing and dumping dogs bodies in trash dumpsters. These same dogs they professed to have “rescued”!!!!!!

    Why don’t you at least be honest and admit you don’t collect these cats to be spayed/neutered out of the goodness of your heart, but that it’s a step towards your final goal of “no animals living with humans” agenda!

    STOP trying to force your beliefs about the way our “pets” should be treated onto the majority.

    “People who love their pets” have finally woken from their apathy and are up and fighting AR and the likes of Peta etc., and you only need to look at what has happened to Levine’s AB1634 bill at the moment to see the groundswell of pet lovers fighting back against people with your attitude.


    That person is the one who should be charged with theft and illegally “fixing” someone elses property (yes, property.)

    Let us finally wake up and understand what “Peta” and their followers true agenda is all about, and STOP FILLING THEIR COFFERS with millions of dollars which they in turn use against the genuine pet lover by putting their people up as senators etc., to table onerous Bills like AB1634.

  27. Anonymous says:

    My dog was stolen in illinois kwow party have all paper work but police refuse to pick up dog what do i do

  28. Debbie Horn says:

    Ex-Boyfriend bought me a Goldendoodle because Sheltie died of a major heart attack after 12 years old. Bought dog as a gift. My dog was Micro-chipped,optigen blood test Breeder has buyer papers, Town licensed, rabie tags, receipts of Puppy classes, dog walkers, puppy receipts from stores. registration papers. Dog was stolen from my mothers home after she was spayed. This is the problem he stole my original registation papers from my home in my filing cabinet not knowing I registered my puppy from a different registration club. Illinois police wont bring my dog back even though there is a police report. What do I do next! He is 52 years old never owned a dog.

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