Lexie, a five-year-old Maltese, was missing from home, was then found by a woman and is now lost again from her original owner.
Lexie disappeared from her owner’s house on July 17. Her owner, Mary Good, thinks that her dog was spooked by a thunderstorm and escaped from the gate around the yard. Good and her daughter went to go search for Lexie, but they didn’t find their missing Maltese.
Meanwhile, a woman on a nearby street, had already found Lexie. Lisa Borrino found Lexie when she darted in front of the car. Borrino took her home and gave the dog a bath. Borrino said that she didn’t call the police because she thought the owner would come forward soon.
The next day, Borrino saw a lost dog poster put up by Good. Borrino called Good and they agreed to meet at Borrino’s house. From here, their stories differ.
According to Good, Borrino said she and her husband wanted to keep Lexie and asked if Good would consider selling her. Good said she was tempted by the offer. Good saw Lexie happy with Borrino’s other dog and it made her think that it might be a good idea for Lexie to stay with the Borrinos.
Good said she called the next day to say that she had changed her mind and wanted Lexie back, but Borrino wasn’t home. Borrino called her back that evening, and Good said that Borrino said: “This is our dog. You gave her to us.”
She reported the incident to the police, but they told her that because she willingly left the dog with the Borrinos, it was a civil matter.
“They told me it was no different than if you lent a lawn mower to someone,” Good said. “It’s a piece of property and it’s your word against theirs.”
Borrino denied that she and Good ever discussed a 24-hour trial period, as Good maintains. She said, instead, that Good told her Lexie was a nuisance and called Borrino’s willingness to adopt the dog a “godsend.”
As proof, Borrino points to a July 19 police report, taken four hours after their meeting, that quotes Good as telling an officer she gave her dog away.
The dispute has resulted in complaints by both sides to police. Good also has filed a small claims complaint against Borrino and her husband, David, both of whom are lawyers, and a complaint with the state judicial branch accusing Lisa Borrino of behavior unbecoming of a lawyer.
The spat is playing out in plain view of town residents, thanks to the signs Good posted on poles, her cars and on the front lawn of her house at the corner of Farmstead Lane and busy Stratton Brook Road.
“Our grief. Their gain,” reads one on a Blue Ford minivan in Good’s driveway.
“Attorney Borrino has our dog,” says another on a Ford pickup truck parked nearby. “My kids are crying.”
The signs have attracted support for Good from passersby and neighborhood residents, but harassment charges from the Borrinos, leaving police trying to balance Good’s First Amendment rights against the Borrinos’ rights not to be publicly humiliated.
“As a department, we are bound to look into it,” Simsbury police Capt. Matthew Catania said of the harassment charges.
Robert Terhune Stewart, a neighbor who sides with Good, said the issue is an ethical one, not a legal one.
“The real question is the intent that Mary had at the time and the state she was in when she made this agreement,” said Stewart, an attorney and family therapist specializing in mediation. “She was under tremendous stress and I don’t think she knew what she was agreeing to.”