Hurricane Katrina Evacuee Loses Dog Custody Battle


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.

43 Responses to “Hurricane Katrina Evacuee Loses Dog Custody Battle”

  1. Sharon says:

    Austin and the people of Texas are racist. It’s a city where white cops shoot unarmed black men in the back on a regular basis. I would be willing to bet that the Katrina lady is black and the adoptive parent white. Most of the hurricane victims probably did not have the financial resources to fight for the pets they lost. Even if they did, look at the outcome. Our government considers both people and pets disposable and they did nothing for the people dying during Katrina on tv in front of our eyes and do nothing but discredit those who pets have died. This is a sick country we live in.

    ITCHMO ADMIN: Sharon, please do not make generalizations or assumptions about any groups of people.

  2. Canada Cat Lover says:

    Sharon you are correct about the race of the true owner and the current possessor. I sincerely hope that Shalanda can find a way to appeal this.

  3. Pat from FL says:

    This is indeed a sad day for America and the Katrina victims who have lost so much already. For many, the pets were their only family AND the cruel treatment inflicted upon these people to this day IS beyond comprehension. All DNA pointed to this dog being “Jazz”, the dog was taken by rescuers to Austin and given to Tiffany. The dog was never posted online as mandated by law for it to be removed from the emergency rescue shelter. To make a long story short, Jazz was dognapped! What dog owner would go thru this heart wrenching legal battle to fight for a dog that IS NOT THEIRS or they did not care about? Surely this matter will be investigated and Justice will prevail, swiftly. The many volunteers helping the Katrina pets and their owners will not let it rest. It appears, from input of those that know, this could very well be white vs black, rich vs poor, lining someone’s pocket? This may not be the end, only the beginning.

  4. dog collar addict says:

    what a crummy story, it’s really sad that they rightful owner couldn’t get their dog back :(

  5. Lynne says:

    Somehow I think there may be more to this story than we are hearing. It’s also a great example of why you should get your pet microchipped. No argument with that.

  6. Pat from FL says:

    Lynne: Many of the Katrina pets were microchipped AND still have never been found. The chips are not 100% failproof and they do move AND many times undetectable in a dog with a lot of fur. In the case of Jazz, even if she were microchipped, she was never placed on the Emergency Database as required by emergency law to take the dog out of the state. There is much to the story of why many of these dogs have never been found, but the bottom line is this, the persons who dognapped these dogs did not believe the owners deserved them back, they did not and still do not care to hear the situations these pet owners were placed in AND per Steve Wise, Animal Rights Activist and Attorney, “It’s almost entirely a movement of animals from poor blacks to middle-class whites.” The dogs were dognapped and many still hidden in hopes the owners never come knocking. But with the help of 100’s (if not 1000’s) across the U.S., Canada and beyond, these dognappers are getting knocks on their doors and legal papers handed to them to this day. AND yes, there is much more to this story than has been reported.

  7. SueG says:

    This legal battle dragged on well over a year, but the judge couldn’t even be bothered giving a reason for his one-sentence ruling. Why? Because whatever his reason is, it sure wasn’t based on legal issues or precedent. He’s used so-called justice to deny Augillard’s rights, probably thinking if he makes it hard enough for her, she’ll just give up and go away and Madura can live happily ever after with her stolen dog. Well, I hope Augillard continues her fight for Jazz because she will win in the end, and people like Madura and this judge have got to be stopped. It doesn’t take a hurricane and broken levees to lose a pet. It could happen to anyone, anytime: Fluffy gets lost, “samaritan” takes Fluffy in, Fluffy’s parents locate her a few months later, samaritan says “Nope, not your Fluffy” or “You don’t deserve her, she has a tumor (or matted fur, or hairballs)” … If this decision stands, we all lose.

  8. beauxbridge says:

    The summary above of the article makes the assumption that they are the same dog, when in fact, the article states this is what the case was about. Legally speaking the judge need only determine if evidence supported the claim that this was the same dog.

  9. Canada Cat Lover says:

    Pat is correct–there were microchipped pets who were not scanned at all, or who were not returned even if they were scanned.

    The bottom line is that if an agency has decided they aren’t committed to reuniting, they will find every reason in the book not to. Where there isn’t a will, there isn’t a way.

    BTW not all rescuers or shelters have been obstreperous–the majority of them conducted themselves courteously and professionally.

    It will be interesting to learn of the judge’s rationale, which hopefully will see the light of day, as it sounds as though Shalanda’s lawyer is pursuing it.

  10. deej says:

    Just wondering if there is a fund we could donate to to help the woman try to regain her dog…?


  11. Texan says:

    “Austin and the people of Texas are racist.”

    Sharon, thanks for that undeserved slam on everyone in Austin and Texas. It’s amazing you have room in your house for that broad brush you’re using. There’s obviously no space left for a map which would tell you that the case was heard in San Marcos, not Austin. Closer to San Antonio, in fact. Still Texas, though, right?

    You lose all credibility when you make false and nasty accusations like that.

    beauxbridge is correct. The article states that it was not confirmed that Hope and Jazz are one and the same. Unfortunately, no matter how awful she felt and how frustrated she still must feel, Augillard should never have physically attacked Madura in the courthouse. On camera, no less. That didn’t help. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t have done the same, pushed to the edge, but it was still wrong and the case had yet to be decided at that point.

    It’s an awful situation all around.

  12. Pat from FL says:

    “Unfortunately, no matter how awful she felt and how frustrated she still must feel, Augillard should never have physically attacked Madura in the courthouse. On camera, no less”. AND this goes along with the biased reporting as well. Why wasn’t the treatment of the REAL family reported ..the racial slurs, the hateful comments, etc - huh?? The trips she made for court only to be told upon her arrival “postponed”, how many times are the great people of New Orleans going to victimized? I guess we have to be patient and await the reasoning behind the ruling VS the one sentence rule. This is about as absurd as the Florida Law which allowed Pam Bondi, by posting $, to keep Master Tank although the Judge ruled he was the Coutures dog. How well is Jesse Jackson received in Texas? Maybe we will get to see.

  13. elizabeth says:

    I will not pretend to know the right answer to this dilemma because like most all of us who are posting here I do not know all the facts.

    I do know this: Many of the Katrina pets would have died horrible slow deaths in NO had they not been rescued from the floods by brave animal savoirs - and many of those traumatized pets in shelters would have been ultimately euthanized had they not been adopted by caring people. Regardless of the current circumstances, or owners’ “rights” or people’s ideas of “fairness”, in my opinion what should be the only consideration here should be what’s best for the actual dog, and whether uprooting the animal yet again is truly in its best interests. This should be about the dog, not about the people.

  14. deej says:

    It seems as though that would be saying that someone could steal a dog and give it a good home - and then it would be best to leave the dog with the burglers vs being uprooted. I really can’t see that line of reasononing holding up.

    I don’t know the facts behind this - appreciate people’s thoughtful posts - I do however want to make sure the people of NO have the same equal rights/access to the law, etc. as the people with perhaps more money who graciously took in animals - but perhaps are being overzealous…???

    And yes - the comment about Texas being racist should not have been allowed to stand. There is racism everywhere, and there are wonderful Texans.


  15. Sandy says:

    The dog knew it’s REAL mom/owner ..they were separated by tragedy I could never keep a dog or cat I loved that I adopted KNOWING I was keeping it from it’s RIGHTFUL owner. I volunteer in rescue an had a old beat up dog I adopted. IF his owner came up and was not harmful to him I would have ….it would have killed me…but I would have given that dog back to his REAL mom. I hope the new owner sleeps poorly the rest of her life. I am so mad I could spit over this.

  16. Canada Cat Lover says:

    While it is true that many of these pets would have died if they had not been rescued, that’s not really the point. The fact is that they were rescued, and many rescuers and shelters had the decency to look for the owner and reunite owners with their pets. Rescuing an animal from the flood does not abnegate responsibility for reuniting it with hits owner.

    If we are going to get into the ‘WHAT IF’s then it is just as fair to say “WHAT IF this dog had gone to one of hundreds of other more cooperative shelters” or fosters as many THOUSANDS of animals did, and were subsequently reunited and returned.

  17. Krista says:

    I too, believe that Sharon should retract the blanket statement that all Texans are racist. I’m from Texas and find this highly offensive. YOU do not speak for me!!! I would hope that these kind of false allegations would not be tolerated by Itchmo, and they would take action to prevent futher racial allegations directed towards all of the people this state.

  18. Marti says:

    Elizabeth, you hit the nail on the head, right on!! I totally agree with you!

    Also, I to am from Texas and I also find the statement of all Texans being racist very offensive!

  19. Sandi K says:

    I dont know all the info about this story, was there a specific reason why she didnt take the dog with her when she left, was there a reason why she left the dog on its own to try and survive the hurricane/flooding? I’d be interested in knowing…..

  20. Canada Cat Lover says:

    Rescuers would not allow her to bring the dog with her. Forcible separations were fairly typical and tragic actually. Some were menaced with guns, some were handcuffed and dragged away from their animals, some were told that their pets would be killed if they didn’t leave right now without them, some were told “oh the rescuers will be coming soon to get your dog” so you don’t need to worry. Some watched as their dogs were pushed off the rescue boat by human rescuers. And some people simply thought they would be returning in two days and life would be back to normal!

    Then they wouldn’t allow residents to return to get their animals after the flood for a long time. By the time she could get back her dog was gone.

    And please don’t start the “why didn’t she evacuate” etc. Many people, good, kind, intelligent, people, including people of means as well as those of modest income, chose to stay for all sorts of legitimate reasons. Many knew their house could withstand a major hurricane (and many houses DID, it was the failure of the federal levees that destroyed so much property). I know someone who lost precisely 4 shingles off his roof from the hurricane. The house withstood Hurricane Betsy in 1965, so it was his intention to stay, which he did until the mandatory evacuation was ordered just before Katrina struck.

    Hindsight is 20/20. You can bet that if there is a next time (heaven forbid) Shalanda and the pet owners who have had to fight tooth and claw to try to get their animals back will be doing things differently. And thanks to federal legislation in the form of the PETS Act, “the system” will not put as many obstacles in the way of pet owners.

  21. Canada Cat Lover says:

    By the way, Katrina pets are to this day being reunited with their original owners. The animals know their people and are happy to be reunited. They could be wondering whatever happened to their “mom” or “dad”

    Check out the video footage of Tank and Nila, also the subject of a protracted custody dispute. They went home late May. They are home with the grandparents, and the two grandchildren, they are reunited with each other, and with the third family dog. They do not appear to be confused about why they are where they are–because they REMEMBER.

  22. Sandi K says:

    Canada Cat Lover says: And please don’t start the “why didn’t she evacuate” etc.

    Canada Cat Lover, I didnt say anything, just asked a question. As my post said, I dont know all the info about the story, was just asking…..

  23. Marilyn says:

    A chipped and registered dog was adopted out by McKinney TX SPCA. They either did not scan the dog or disregarded the scan. So next time you pay for microchipping (and I am all for that), be aware that it is not foolproof. Of course those who chipped but did not pay extra to register were out of luck when NOLA vet records were destroyed. This was not a case like that and the chip information led to the owner’s Mother. She could be easily located. The owner was a soldier in Iraq. He never got his dog back. That was a nice “Thank you for your service!” He lost his home too. SHAME ON THOSE WHO TOOK HIS DOG!


  24. Canada Cat Lover says:

    Mea culpa, and apologies Sandi for presuming to know what you were going to say next. Sometimes I forget that not everyone is familiar with what happened..

    Having observed a number of these cases, it’s usually the next thing that people ask. Then followed by, “Oh I would NEVER become separated from/leave/desert/abandon my pet under ANY circumstances…they would have to KILL me first”…

    maybe I’m getting a bit jaded…

  25. beauxbridge says:

    Speaking to several of the comments posted….

    Court dates get postponed every day for many reasons, the court doesn’t take into account where you are from or how far you traveled. Everyone is treated the same and it happens all the time.

    As to the “Austin/Texans” being racist - I lived in Austin for a short time and it is one of the most liberal cities around. I would hardly call the people racist.

    Just one more observation: These statements you are making about the situation - do you know them to be fact? I think otherwise you could be inciting somewhat of a mob metality here.

  26. KatrinaPetReunion Volunteer says:

    “statements you are making about the situation - do you know them to be fact?” Hi Beaux-To which statements are you referring? The racist remarks to Shalanda and her family (yes, fact!), DNA pointed to it being Jazz (yes, fact!) A heartwrenching legal battle for the owner who has already lost everything and to be victimized over and over (yes, fact!) Jazz was taken from a temporary shelter by someone AND never input into the database as required by emergency law? (yes, fact!) Jazz was actually tracked from a temp shelter in New Orleans to where she is today, by volunteers who know/have the facts and have supported and been with Shalanda through this. Anxiously awaiting the supporting documentation for the one-sentence ruling.

  27. NH says:

    I wish the dog could talk and say who it would like to stay with for the rest of its life.

  28. beauxbridge says:

    You stating these are facts, versus them actually being facts are two different things, as you seem to have an emotional view of the situation. There are many facts in a court battle, and they would have to all be laid out on a table to make an informed decision, which is the judge’s job.

    NH, yes, if that was only the case.

  29. KatrinaPetReunion Volunteer says:

    Beaux: They are facts, not my stating of what I perceive to be facts. You asked the question, I answered, now you are questioning my answers. I know them to be “fact”…are you looking for credentials or what? Here is a link of a just a few of hundreds of Katrina Pets, volunteers and owners are looking for each and everyday.
    ALSO, if you haven’t seen these heartwarming YouTube Videos from reunions the last month, they are a must..warning, they might make you Smile (and for some, cry) AND turn up your volume, it’s a must!

  30. deej says:

    wow - thank you for those videaos - I had not realized there were other custody battles.

    yes of course it’s important to know the facts and I have rarely been let down by the itchmo posters pooling info and pointing people in the right direction to find more.


  31. beauxbridge says:

    Facts meaning something that can be proven. Your credentials wouldn’t come into play when fact is presented. While it is wonderful to rescue animals, as I have been involved with as well (likeyly most people who read itchmo), it still does not change the law. Perhaps if there was as much focus on the animals dying everyday, as there has been on this one particular case, then we would have a much higher success rate.

  32. Tucson says:

    The tale of Katrina pets is a best a checkered one! Many shelters worked so very hard to reunite pets & hang on to them long enough to allow owners who simply had no place to go & were in hotels/shelters/temp housing. Those are true heroes!

    But you don’t want to know about the 13 year chipped dog I found–chip had NEVER been called in. Or all the New Orleans tags that were NEVER called in despite the fact that there was a working phone to a man who ’saved’ the database within weeks of Katrina. Or all the animals that were immediately adopted–as early as 10/16/05 some shelters told owners their pets were adopted and goodbye! Some shelters actually offered money to owners to leave their pets with adopters–nobody ever took them up on it but there were owners had to pay thousands of dollars to adopters to get their pets back! And then there are the countless of animals simply euthanized cause they were too old, not pretty enough, didn’t like to be caged, were too scared… Those are the untold stories…

    As for Jazz–no city can or should ever be called racists! But individuals do open themselves up to those kinds of accusations if they hurl racial epithats! And DNA did prove the dog was Jazz. It remains a mystery on what basis the judge made his decision. His lack of legal rationale left a lot to the imagination but he will be forced to issue that rationale in writing within a few weeks…

  33. JK in VA says:

    So please tell me what the judge was thinking by ruling in favor of Madura? What law allows an individual to take pets/property/anything and not have to return it once proven rightful owner? Does anyone else find this outrageous? If someone’s horse got out of the barn and wondered onto the street, does that make the horse free game for others? Come on, most of us have had pets in our lifetime, what would you do if someone had yours and wouldn’t give it back?

    Madura could have been a hero…helped a hurricane victim get reunited with her long lost pet. Apparently they both love the dog since they’re spending so much on attorneys. At lease I hope Madura loves the dog and there is no other motive here. Yet, doing the right thing came and went for Madura. She opted for low road instead. And I find that both disturbing and disgusting.

    Go for the appeal Shalanda. Please don’t give up.

  34. Ashamed in TX says:

    There is an article in the Austin newpaper about Pets on the Lam after 4th of July fireworks. People are looking all over town for their dogs and cats. They better hope Madura doesn’t find them first!!!!!

  35. beauxbridge says:

    So you are hurling accusations instead? Were you there when these alleged events took place? It is appaling when groups of people take it upon themselves to slander people online with apparently no proof of their accusations. It is embarassing to many of the people who have gone through the hellish situation of hurricane evacuations to have people backbiting at any of the people who were trying to help. My friends who went through extreme ordeals in those evacuations are absolutely disgusted with stories like this, as it sours the public, and does not reflect their gratitude for what hundreds of thousands of people have contributed to the rescue/recover/rebuild effort.

    If the DNA evidence were proven, then there would be no question it was the same dog, yet that question remained, so there was obviously an issue with the evidence.

  36. Katrina reuinter says:

    The only people that have talked to the media in this case has been through Madura’s attorney, as quoted in numerous articles. I believe it was done to stir up emotions and sympathy for Madura against the rightful owner. The owner and her lawyers have consistently had no comment to the press articles. You are only getting one side of the story.

    Read about “Hope Floats” rescue in the link below
    (who names a dog Hope Floats unless perhaps you want to use it as a fundraiser then adopt it out to a friend)

    Hope was taken early on in the rescue by a man delivering supplies who was not there to rescue pets and against the direction and laws set by Doctor Littlefield of the Louisiana State Veterinarian’s office for rescued pets leaving the state. They did not let her go through the check in process and instead took her out of the state illegally.
    They called her their little hitchhiker on their blog.
    Jazz was taken from La around Sept 11, 2005

    scroll down to 11/2/2005 posting

    As for chipping don’t count on that being a safeguard for people who had an attitude about returning Katrina pets. A lost Katrina Cocker/poodle mix was found with the matching original owner’s chip number listed on petfinder and they still refused to return the dog to the owner, even denying it was her dog and not posting a picture of the dog there. They put the chip number on petfinders thinking it was the chip given at Lamar Dixon to all pets coming in. Even when confronted with proof of ownership thru a chip number they denied it was her dog and hung up on the owner. Only after lawyers from both sides were brought in did they agree to return the dog but not before making an offer to buy the dog, which the owner turned down flat. That is my baby she told them!

    There were many compassionate and legit rescuers there who did follow the laws and gave the people a chance to find and be reunited with their pets and they are to be rightly praised for the heroes that they are.
    The people on the coast went through a disaster never seen before in the United States. Don’t be responsible for more misery to human beings who have lost so much.
    Jazz was found before Christmas 2005 by that time the adopter only had her for a few months unlike the owner who has had Jazz for 9 years and the owner had her spayed and on Thyroid med’s long before ever being rescued.
    Madura worked in reuniting pets, so she had to know Hope was never listed on petfinder. She was found by accident on the man’s web site. There were numerous pictures of her on that web site easy for the owner to identify her dog. One of her standing up getting a bath looking perfectly healthy.
    Common sense tells us Hope Floats is Jazz why would the owner want an old dog that has medical issues and fight for over a year in the courts to get her back if Hope Floats were not her dog Jazz? Because it is her baby!
    There are too many black Cocker Spaniels needing rescued right now, even in the state of Texas, Tiffany should go save one of them from being PTS and return Jazz to her rightful owner. I would not wont to be responsible for the misery of another human being who is suffered such a great loss.
    As for the rest of us pet owners, do you really want people coming in and taking pets out of a disaster area without following laws and regulations? Not me, this was not a stray dog on the streets, it was a rescued dog from a house with plenty of food and water left.
    If a disaster should hit your area and other people judge you unjustly as an unfit owner you may never see your pets again if this is allowed to stand.

  37. JK in VA says:

    The proof was in the DNA. That was proven but maybe some folks are still not aware of this. Maybe this is why the judge didn’t want to give a reason for his verdict.

    Not trying to upset anyone here but I would like to know how DNA proof of ownership would change the minds of those who still believe justice was served. Breaubridge, what would be your take?

  38. LKP2005 says:

    MINE: Taken By Katrina

  39. Shalandasupporter says:


    Thanks for sharing that video. Too bad Tiffany won’t watch it and have any compassion or any feeling for what Shalanda has been put through.

  40. PatfromFL says:

    Any updates on an appeal?

  41. Shalandasupporter says:

    Not yet!

  42. for the animals says:

    I agree with Elizabeth. This is about what is best for the animals and as an animal lover, I personally feel that if Hope is Jazz, Ms. Augillard has no business getting this dog back. Hope suffered from a severe skin condition which does not happen in the short time that this dog was in a rescue after Katrina. Further, and even more detrimental to this dog’s life, the dog had golf-ball sized bladder stones - also not a condition that does not arise overnight. Since when do we strive to return children to neglectfull parents? If Hope is Jazz, from what I understand, she is in a better place where her medical conditions are being cared for. I agree it is sad that some folks don’t have the money for proper vet care but frankly, until they do, they should not have pets.

  43. Barb says:

    Read the timeline below the people that took Jazz refused medical care for her for more than a month after taking her, yet claim she was in such bad shape medically that is why they took her. They used Jazz as a money maker plastering her pictures and writings of her rescue all over their webpage calling her their little hitchhiker then turned around and named her Hope Floats. Who would name a dog that if they did not want to take advantage of her being a Katrina rescue dog? They did not go through the proper channels to rescue her they just took her out before she could be processed through Lamar Dixon to be treated and microchipped.


    posting from

    SSPhilips says:

    October 18th, 2007 at 5:34 pm
    Press Contact:

    Phil West, Luminaria Media & Public Relations

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 27, 2007


    Austin-based attorneys hope to reunite woman with dog lost in Hurricane Katrina

    (AUSTIN, TX) – Lawyers representing Shalanda Augillard, the New Orleans-area woman who lost her fight to have her dog returned to her in a Hays County court earlier this summer, have announced they are appealing the District Court’s ruling. This is the first case that has gone to trial in which an owner of a dog lost in Katrina was denied the return of her pet.

    Augillard said, “I put my faith in the justice system, and it failed me. I know without a doubt that the dog in Texas is Jazz. I love my dog, and all I want is to bring Jazz home.”

    This is the latest chapter in a two-year ordeal for Augillard, who was separated from her cocker spaniel named Jazz in the chaos ensuing from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Her parents, who were taking care of Jazz while Augillard was working at FedEx, were ordered to leave Jazz behind by the National Guard when they were escorted from their dry and undamaged home in New Orelans. After the door to their home was kicked in and their home was vandalized, Jazz ended up at a New Orleans-area animal triage center. From there, Andy Odam, the director of Austin-based PawMatch, took the black cocker spaniel to Texas, eventually leaving her in the custody of Tiffany Madura, who resides in Hays County.

    Augillard’s long search for her dog included many trips to Lamar-Dixon, a shelter run by the Humane Society of the United States, where rescued animals were taken for processing. Augillard also listed Jazz’s information on, the database listing all lost and found animals following the hurricane.

    It was truly miraculous that Augillard found her dog. In spite of the protocol prescribed by various animal rescue groups, PawMatch never listed Jazz on In December 2005, a woman in Virginia involved in cocker spaniel rescue noticed a picture of a black cocker spaniel on PawMatch’s website and forwarded the picture to Augillard, who immediately contacted Odam to see see the dog. He refused. By that time, the dog was in the custody of
    Madura. After continued refusals to visit the dog, Augillard eventually turned to the Texas courts for help. The trial concluded on June 13, 2007.

    According to Austin attorney Susan Philips, who represented Augillard in the case, the outcome was incomprehensible, given the uncontroverted and overwhelming evidence that Jazz is indeed Augillard’s dog. who represented Augillard in the case, the outcome was incomprehensible, given the uncontroverted and overwhelming evidence that Jazz is indeed Augillard’s dog.

    “A noted DNA expert, Dr. Joy Halverson, testified that, ’with scientific certainty, I can unequivocally say the DNA samples came from the same dog.’ ” Philips said. “At the outset of the case, we were confident that the court would return Jazz to Augillard. We thought that the quickest way to get Jazz home was to file suit in Texas, in Hays County, which is where the dog was being held. Because the judge limited the trial to four hours, we didn’t have the opportunity to present our case. We were stunned by the judge’s decision.”

    She added, “Since Jazz is now ten years old, it is imperative that we continue to pursue this case at all levels and hopefully reunite her with Augillard before it’s too late.”

    A fund has been set up to support Augillard’s ongoing quest for justice.

    Donations may be sent to:

    Augillard-Jazz Reunification Fund
    Wells Fargo Bank
    Account # 1482693908
    1601 West 35th Street
    Austin, TX 78703

    Timeline of Events

    August 27, 2005
    Shalanda Augillard leaves her home in Kenner, La., and takes her eight-year-old cocker spaniel, Jazz, to her parents’ home on A.P. Tureaud in New Orleans. She is on her way to work at FedEx and knows it will be a long shift as they prepare for the hurricane. Jazz frequently stayed with the Augillards when Shalanda worked at FedEx at the New Orleans airport. Even though the family initially considered evacuating New Orleans, as they and many New Orleanians had done many times before, they decided to stay because they did not want to leave without Shalanda. However, they did move their vehicles to higher ground and made sure they had adequate supplies.

    August 28, 2005
    After working through the night, Shalanda gets off work early Sunday morning and goes home to pack, then goes to her parents’ home. They spend the afternoon making sure they and their neighbors and friends are prepared. Shalanda leaves to take some supplies to a friend west of them and then is unable to get back to her parents’ home because a curfew had been put into effect earlier than expected.

    August 29, 2005
    In the very early morning, Hurricane Katrina makes landfall just east of New Orleans. Within hours, the first of many levees break and parts of the city begin to flood. The Augillards’ home sustains little damage and no flooding. Phone service is disrupted, and the Augillards are not able to contact each other.

    August 29 -September 1, 2005
    The Augillards provide a refuge for neighbors, several of them elderly people with no families.

    September 1, 2005
    The National Guard evacuates the family. As Shalanda’s mother tries to board the boat with Jazz in her arms, the Guard orders her to leave the dog behind. She places Jazz in their second-floor apartment with lots of water, food, and access to a well-ventilated porch, thinking they will return soon. CBS reporter John Roberts is on the boat with the Guard.

    September 1, 2005
    Shalanda succeeds in contacting her parents and learns that they were forced to leave Jazz behind.

    September 8, 2005
    FedEx, which never suspended operations, sent teams to survey hard-hit areas to determine the most efficient way to continue service. Shalanda, as a FedEx employee, is assigned to survey the area in which her parents live and goes to her parents’ home. The door has been kicked out, the home has been ransacked, and the building has been marked with the date of September 7th . Jazz is not in the apartment.

    September 9, 2005
    Shalanda makes the first of many trips to Lamar-Dixon, a shelter established by the U.S. Humane Society, to look for Jazz, who needed her medication for a thyroid condition. She inputs all of Jazz’s information on

    September 11, 2005
    Andy Odam of PawMatch and Thomas Darnell of Rivers & Reefs leave Austin with a truckload of supplies to assist in animal rescue after Katrina. They are told by a representative of the Louisiana SPCA that they must deliver the supplies to Jefferson Feed Store, an official animal triage shelter operated by the Louisiana SPCA to process animals. The store was staffed by many volunteers, including veterinarians and veterinary technicians.

    September 12, 2005
    A black cocker spaniel appears at the Jefferson Feed Store Charlotte Lily, a rescue worker, remembers seeing the Jefferson Feed Store Charlotte Lily, a rescue worker, remembers seeing a black cocker spaniel with a group of other animals who had been rescued from the Augillards’ neighborhood. The spaniel had been examined by a veterinarian and had documentation attached to her crate. No one reported seeing any other cocker spaniels that day.

    September 12, 2005
    After being told not to remove any animals from the Jefferson Feed Store, Odam transports a black cocker spaniel to Austin in violation of protocol established by the U.S. Humane Society for dealing with animals displaced by Katrina.

    September 12, 2005
    Jennifer Hays, then a PawMatch board member, posts information about the black cocker spaniel on the PawMatch blog before Odam returns to Austin, stating that he is bringing a cocker spaniel with him and that sponsorships benefiting Jefferson Feed Store will be available. In an earlier posting, Hays stated that PawMatch is a 501(c) (3) organization, which it was not.

    September 13, 2005
    The PawMatch blog recounts Odam’s return to Austin with a black cocker spaniel. Odam later stated in his deposition that he took the dog so that he could provide her immediate medical care and so that he could put a face on his rescue efforts. A picture of the dog appeared on the blog right above a PayPal button.
    September 14, 2005
    Andy Odam and PawMatch place the black cocker spaniel in foster care with Catherine Danie of ARF, an animal rescue group, in Wimberley. At the time of placement, Odam had not provided any medical care for the dog.

    September 15, 2005
    Another ARF volunteer takes Jazz to veterinarian Dr. Thomas House at San Marcos Veterinary Clinic. Dr. House exams Jazz and determines that she has numerous health issues that are all treatable. His tests indicate that her urine contains triple phosphate crystals and that she is heartworm NEGATIVE. He suspects that she has bladder stones and that she is hypothyroid. The ARF volunteer declines any further treatment.

    September 19, 2005
    PawMatch posts that the cocker spaniel needs a new foster home.

    September 25, 2005:
    Tiffany Madura agrees to foster the black cocker spaniel.

    September 28, 2005
    Madura takes the dog to Dr. Barrett Donop at Oak Springs Veterinary Hospital in Austin. The dog had received no veterinary care in the interim. If this is Jazz, she has now been without her medication (for thyroid problems and urine crystals) for almost a month. Dr. Donop says that there is no evidence of stones. He does not check her thyroid.

    November 2, 2005
    The dog undergoes surgery for removal of bladder stones at Oak Springs Veterinary Clinic.

    December 27, 2005
    A tip from Barbara Cotters from Virginia leads Shalanda to the PawMatch web site, which has a photograph of a black cocker spaniel on the home page, along with a link to contribute to PawMatch through PayPal. Shalanda notices that the dog has white markings on her mouth that are very similar to Jazz’s distinctive white markings.

    December 27, 2005
    Shalanda contacts Odam, who refuses to let her see the dog.

    January – April, 2006
    Shalanda continues her attempts to persuade Andy Odam to allow her access to the dog on his web site. She provides the medical records that she was able to retrieve from Jazz’s veterinarians (their clinics had been destroyed by Katrina) to Louisiana Deputy Attorney General Mimi Hunley, who tries to negotiate a meeting between Augillard and Odam. Odam cuts off contact with Hunley.
    March, 2006 – May, 2006
    Many people involved in animal rescue throughout the United States try to arrange a meeting between Shalanda, Odam, and Madura. It is later learned that Madura used at least three different user names to post information discouraging the return of the cocker spaniel to anyone; under one of those names, she asked Barbara Cotters to remove all of the information she posted on her website about the PawMatch cocker spaniel, contending that the dog should not be returned. Some rescue people contacted attorney Mimi Smith, in Alpine who coordinated the initiation of legal proceedings.
    May 5, 2006
    Shalanda obtains a temporary restraining order from the District Court of Hays County to have the cocker spaniel removed from Madura’s home and placed in a kennel at Augillard’s expense. Mimi Smith and Austin attorney Susan Philips, brought in by Smith as local counsel, meet with a Hays County constable who instructs them on the procedure to be followed in enforcing the court’s order. The constable and a deputy remove the dog from Madura’s home and her property and then transfer her to Smith. A confused-looking and apprehensive dog immediately begins wagging her tail and wriggling when she is called “Jazz.” , With the constable leading the way, Smith, and Philips, drive the dog to where Augillard, her mother, and a friend were
    waiting. Before the car stops, with the windows and doors still closed, the dog starts barking frantically and charges out of the car the moment the door is opened. She runs in circles around Augillard and her mother and friend, all of whom have tears running down their faces. For the first time since the hurricane, Shalanda is allowed to see the black cocker spaniel. She, her mother, and her friend positively identify the dog as Jazz.

    They then drive to a nearby kennel, the constable still leading the way, with Jazz riding in Susan Philips’ car, pursuant to the court order and Augillard behind in her car. When Augillard gets out of her car at the kennel, Jazz jumps in and takes her place on the center console, where she always loved to ride. Shalanda lifts Jazz out of the car and says it would be too painful to spend any more time with her, thinking that she would be taking Jazz home on May 16, after the hearing for the preliminary injunction. Shalanda then prepays the kennel costs
    while Mimi Smith stays with Jazz. Shalanda, her mother and her friend then begin the drive back to New Orleans.

    May 5 -30, 2006
    Jazz is held at a kennel at Shalanda’s expense.

    May 16, 2006:
    The first of two parts of the preliminary injunction hearing is held in San Marcos in front of Judge Bill Henry, and Shalanda is in attendance. The temporary restraining order is extended two weeks after the hearing is cut short due to an infestation of tropical mites in the courthouse.

    May 30, 2006
    When the preliminary injunction hearing resumes, Judge Henry is not available. Because Augillard has again traveled to Austin and is eager to take Jazz home, she agrees to a visiting judge, Judge Paul Davis, who is unfamiliar with the case. This hearing is also cut short due to the mite infestation. The Court denies Shalanda’s motion for a preliminary injunction and orders, among other things, that Jazz be returned to Madura because the judge does not want her to have to stay in a kennel any longer. He orders the parties to arrange for DNA
    comparison testing and to return to the court once the results are received.

    June 2, 2006
    Two sweaters and a hairbrush belonging to Jazz are sent to Dr. Joy Halverson, a veterinary geneticist at QuestGen Forensics in Davis, CA. Dr. Halverson is a nationally respected DNA expert who performs DNA tests on dogs to verify pedigrees for the American Kennel Club and provides court testimony in human criminal cases.

    June 7, 2006:
    Dr. Halverson reports that even though she found hairs on the sweaters, there is inadequate amplification. She does, however, find a serum exudate encrusted at the base of the bristles of the brush that yields adequate DNA. She then requests a reference sample from the dog in Texas.

    June 13, 2006
    Attorney for Madura files a motion for a protective order, arguing that Jazz should not be made available for DNA sampling because Augillard, Philips and Smith had access to her on May 5, 2006.

    June 15, 2006
    Even though Judge Davis had ordered the DNA testing, an additional hearing is required to compel Madura to produce the dog for DNA sampling. Judge Henry orders the defendants to produce the dog within one month; Shalanda is at the hearing.

    July 14, 2006:
    DNA samples are taken from the cocker spaniel by Thomas Beckett, DVM, in the presence of Dr. Donop at Oak Springs Veterinary Clinic . The samples were sealed by Dr. Beckett in the presence of Dr. Donop and Susan Philips. The envelopes were signed by both Dr. Beckett and Dr. Donop and sent to Dr. Halverson. Once more, Shalanda makes the trip from New Orleans to Central Texas.

    July 19, 2006:
    Dr. Halverson concludes that the samples from the hairbrush are from the same dog that the samples were taken from in Texas, stating that “with scientific certainty, I can unequivocally say the samples came from the same dog.”

    August 8, 2006
    A hearing is held to determine if the Court would allow Dr. Halverson to testify by telephone. The request is denied. Shalanda attends the hearing.

    September 28, 2006
    Dr. Halverson is deposed in Sacramento, CA.

    October 19, 2006
    Dr. Halverson travels from California to testify at a hearing regarding the DNA test results. Shalanda comes from New Orleans to attend the hearing. Both are present in the courtroom when the hearing is canceled. The clerk reschedules the hearing for December 12.
    December 12, 2006

    Dr. Halverson and Shalanda again travel to Austin for another hearing to introduce the DNA results by testimony from Dr. Halverson in order for the Court to reconsider its decision of May 30, 2006, which returned Jazz to Madura.. Dr. Halverson testifies that “typically, when we have a 17 marker DNA match in a case, the likelihood ratio exceeds a trillion. It’s a trillion times more likely that the match occurred because the DNA came from the same dog as that it came to happen by random chance. Later on in the report, further on, I actually did the calculation, and the number gets –– the actual number is much higher … ten to the 16th, which is a quadrillion or something like that. In a nutshell. it means that to a very, very, very high degree of scientific
    certainty the samples match because they came from the same dog.” Judge Henry makes no findings, denies the request that Jazz be returned to the kennel pending trial, and orders the parties to seven hours of mediation.
    January 17, 2007
    The parties mediate for four hours.

    February 14, 2007
    The parties mediate for an additional three hours but do not reach an agreement.

    March 2007
    To provide even more proof that Jazz and the dog in Texas are the same dog and to refute the vague inferences that samples had been tampered with, AKC records are obtained by subpoena of all of the litters born to the mother of Jazz. A half-sister of Jazz who was born a year after Jazz from a different sire is found in Virginia. Dr. Halverson compares the DNA from the Virginia dog with the DNA of the Texas dog and determines that they, too, are both related to the same female.

    April 2007
    Laura Maloney, director of the Louisiana SPCA, writes to Andy Odam, requesting the immediate return of the cocker spaniel he removed from Jefferson Feed Store in violation of established protocol. Odam never responds to that letter.

    June 12-13, 2007
    Trial is held in Hays County District Court in San Marcos before Judge Henry. The parties are limited to a total of four hours for the trial, and Shalanda’s attorneys are unable to call eight of her witnesses. Dr. Halverson was present and repeated her testimony from December.

    June 29, 2007:
    Judge Henry faxes a letter to counsel stating that the Court renders judgment in favor of Madura. No explanation is provided.

    July 20, 2007
    Judge Henry releases his findings of fact, contending that the testimony of Augillard’s witnesses was not credible and alleging that the DNA evidence had a “high potential for tampering” even though no evidence of tampering was ever introduced.

    July 30, 2007:
    Susan Philips files a motion for a new trial.

    September 17, 2005
    Shalanda’s attorney files a notice of appeal.

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