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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Owner who gave away sausage dog after it bit his granddaughter cannot have it back, judge rules


A tug-of-love: A battle over sausage dog Bailey ended with the pet staying with its new owner

With his doleful eyes and silky fur, Bailey the dachshund is loved by almost everyone he meets.

But the little dog’s popularity led to an extraordinary courtroom saga as he found himself at the centre of a custody battle.

Fighting over his affections were his former owner, 55-year-old grandfather Gary Rowlinson, and Steven Spencer, 26, an image consultant.

Distraught: Gary and Moira Rowlinson, with a picture of Bailey the sausage dog

The bitter tug of love stemmed from an incident in February when Bailey nipped Mr Rowlinson’s two-year-old granddaughter, Lola, on the cheek.

Shocked and fearing for the safety of their seven grandchildren, Mr Rowlinson and his wife Moira, 56, immediately looked for a new home for their pet. They were introduced to dog lovers Mr Spencer and his partner Ken Finney, who lived three miles away.

The Rowlinsons were told the couple were looking for a companion for their chocolate brown dachshund, Dexter, and would be glad to give Bailey a home.

In an emotional handover at their house, the Rowlinsons gave Bailey up, but almost as soon as they had done it they regretted their actions.

New owner: Steven Spencer, right, offered Bailey refuge when the Rowlinsons, left, gave him up after he bit their granddaughter

Within days, they could bear it no more, and went to Mr Spencer’s house to say they had changed their minds and wanted Bailey back.

But Mr Spencer politely told the couple that he would not return the 18-month-old dog, saying the pet was happy and content.

Mr Rowlinson, a joiner, was devastated and launched legal action under the Return of Goods Act, arguing that he had a receipt from the dog’s breeder that proved he was the owner.

In response, Mr Spencer engaged solicitors and barristers in a mammoth legal fight that culminated at Stockport County Court yesterday.

And it ended in heartbreak for the Rowlinsons, from Offerton, Stockport, after a district judge ruled the couple had given Bailey as ‘a gift’ which could not be revoked and dismissed their claim.

Devoted: Moira with Bailey while on holiday in Bournemouth and Gary holding Bailey

He also ordered the couple to pay Mr Spencer’s legal costs of more than £1,400 because they had brought the claim and lost.

After the hearing, Mr Rowlinson said: ‘We are very upset – it was obviously not the ruling that we were hoping for.

‘All we can do now is start trying to forget about Bailey and get on with our lives. But it is going to be very difficult because we would have done anything to win Bailey back.

‘If it had cost me £10,000, then I would pay it today to get him back home. We miss him terribly.

‘I bitterly regret letting Moira hand him over that night and that decision will haunt us for the rest of our lives. I do not think it is something we will ever get over.

‘But I think that Steven Spencer is a hard-hearted person who has had no regard for our feelings at all.’

His wife added: ‘I am just gutted that we have lost and that I will never see Bailey again. It has been an awful time.’

source: dailymail


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