We’ve seen it before and no doubt we’ll see it again; a shelter or rescue takes in or claims a dog and places it with another, perhaps a foster or vet to care for the animal.  Then all the sudden… notoriety!  And with the notoriety… cha-ching… $$$$!  The organization or foster seems to have the animal’s best interests at heart but the rescue or shelter sees a ‘lottery win’ rather than the welfare of the animal at the center. Is this the case with the Obie, the dieting doxie and Oregon Dachshund Rescue who claim that Obie was released to them vs.  Nora Vanatta who volunteered to foster and care for Obie?

Obie is an adorable and sweet, but severely overweight 5 year old Dachshund who at 77 pounds desperately needed help.  His owners were well meaning but aged and suffering from dementia.  Eventually a family member stepped in a put out a plea for help before Obie ate himself to death.

Specific details are a bit murky, who did what, who said what, etc. but what is not is the fact that Nora Vanetta stepped up to foster Obie and made it a mission to help him lose weight.  Seems when the plea went out, Oregon Dachshund Rescue stepped up, not to take the dog in personally, but to request a volunteer to foster and that’s when Vanetta stepped in.  There was never a verbal agreement or paperwork.

When Obie finally arrived on August 18, driven down by a friendly volunteer, Nora Vanatta was shocked by the size of her new dog. The former vet tech had seen a lot in her day, but this thing here was blocking out the damn sun. Thus began Biggest Loser, Doxie Edition — an epic quest to get Obie back into shape.

Vanatta started a Facebook page for Obie — who’s otherwise healthy — to track his weight loss and solicit donations for help. She also wanted her dog’s story to rally humans. Vanatta wrote, “My hope is that he can be an inspiration to any person or animal trying to lose weight. It is so important to introduce pups and kids to a healthy lifestyle and food choices as early as possible. Prevention is the key!” (CNN)

In two months, Obie has lost 15 pound through being on a strict diet and some playtime with Vanetta’s other two dogs with which he’s bonded.  Obie has also become a media sensation, aside from his Facebook following, he’s appeared traveled and appeared on TV. Vanetta posts pictures and videos sharing his progress and garnering support as well as inspiring others by Obie’s journey.

Unfortunately,  Jenell Rangan from Oregon Dachshund Rescue is claiming that Vanetta is not caring properly for Obie, despite everything being journaled through his FB page and she also claims he should be traveling all over the country.

In a complaint filed Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court, Oregon Dachshund Rescue alleges that Vanatta, a former veterinary technician, has not been providing Obie with proper veterinary care for his obesity. Instead, the rescue organization says Vanatta has been “exploiting the dog for the sensationalistic promotional value of its unusual obesity” and earning money off of the dog’s public exhibition.” The complaint seeks the immediate return of Obie to Rangan. (MSNBC)

In advance of Monday’s court hearing, Vanetta, who by all accounts, seems to be taking excellent care of Obie, and in fact was a vet tech, has turned to the public in a plea to help her continue to care for Obie.  As of Friday morning, an online petition asking Rangan “stop fighting to take Obie away from his home” had almost 12,000 supporters.

Vanatta [said] there was never any paperwork or verbal agreement exchanged between the two parties about Obie’s ownership. She said she doesn’t believe Obie is now hers, but she doesn’t think Oregon Dachshund Rescue has a claim to him either.

“It is very upsetting that Jenell is using doxie-saving money to take him away from me,” Vanatta wrote. “She clearly doesn’t have his best interest in mind and is only interested in him now that he is famous.

“I am going to fight for (Obie) and I need your continued support. I am not in a position to spend money on a lawyer but it is just not right to make Obie adjust to a new home now. I am asking for your continued support to help Obie stay with me.”

This is not the first time we’re seeing something like this, custody battles when a rescued animal becomes famous.  Patrick, the starved dog who was rescued and saved has been at the heart of one on and off.  Seems compassion can easily be tossed out when there’s a chance for quick easy money and some fame.

From reading through a number of sources for information, as well as comments, public opinion seems to be overwhelmingly in favor of Nora Vanetta.  There are actually quite a number of disparaging comments about Jenell Rangan and Oregon Dachshund Rescue.

I have so much respect for those who devote themselves to rescue and sheltering needy companion animals and those without a voice but sadly, too often, ego steps in and the original mission becomes second place to claiming credit, fame or money.  I hope that common sense wins out in this case and IMHO, I believe that Obie would be best staying where he is.  He’s settled in, bonded to the family, happy and getting healthier by the day.  He’s become an inspiration for many and his story is being lovingly and wonderfully chronicled.

Chime in my friends, what do you think?  Have you been following along, where does Obie belong?


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