Hope/Jazz’s fate has finally been decided for her. This 10-year-old cocker spaniel was in the middle of a custody case between a New Orleans resident and an Austin resident. Jazz was lost by her family in the chaos of Hurricane Katrina, and she was brought to an Austin shelter. She was adopted by Tiffany Madura and was renamed Hope. Another woman, Shalanda Augillard, claimed that Jazz was her dog. She claimed that rescue workers stole her dog when Jazz was left behind during Hurricane Katrina.
The district judge has decided that Hope/Jazz will remain in Austin with Madura. This case was a rare loss for Louisiana pet owners. There is only one other known case where the adoptive owner won over the Louisiana’s owner claim.
This specific case was unusual due to the fact that most of the other dog and cat custody battles were resolved before a trial was needed.
The dispute about Hope/Jazz turned on whether Augillard could convincingly identify the dog in Madura’s possession as hers. Augillard “could not prove from the get-go that this was her dog,” Madura said.
During the two-day trial, a main point of contention was the dog’s physical condition. Augillard said the dog she lost was generally in fine shape.
Madura said the chubby black spaniel she adopted was suffering from a host of medical problems, including bad skin and golf-ball-size bladder stones, and therefore couldn’t be Augillard’s.
Augillard contended the dog’s maladies were the result of unsanitary conditions spawned by the storm.
Augiallard has filed legal papers to appeal the verdict.