Military Family Fights Rescue Group to Return Surrendered Pet

COLUMBUS, Ga. - A military family has now hired an attorney to help them get their pet back after they surrendered it to a rescue group over the weekend.

Ashley and Blake Lechner decided to give up their dog Spot after they learned the Army had assigned Blake to move to Korea in 2016 for about a year.  Blake Lechner dropped the dog off at the Fort Benning Animal Control facility on Saturday afternoon. 

The couple quickly changed their minds, but said they could not get in touch with Tri County Animal Rescue Center, which handles strays and surrenders for the base, until Monday.

By then, the 12 hour grace period for the family to change their minds had expired.

"We have this yo-yoing effect with a lot of people," explained Nadine Butler one of the owners of Tri County.  "People three months after surrender contact us and say, 'We'd like our dog back.'  But that hurts the animal."

The Lechner's attorney Ed Furr, believes the rescue group should allow the family to reimburse them any expenses from caring for Spot and return the dog. 

"These are good people," said Furr.  "They're doing a service to their community, their state and their nation and I think they deserve at least that and that's why we're involved in this case."

The owners of Tri County sparked controversy when they posted a photo of Spot on their Facebook page to advertise him for adoption.  Ashely Lechner and others posted requesting the group return the dog. 

The rescue group would not release specific details, but said they had other reasons for not returning Spot.  They described him as "sad." 

"The circumstances don't allow us to return the animal at this time," said Butler.

Furr, however, refuted those claims.

"I think just about everyone has seen current pictures of this dog.  This dog was healthy.  This dog was well-fed, well-hydrated, well taken care of in terms of regular veterinary care.  This was a happy dog.  I would dispute every syllable of those allegations," he said. 

Tri County Animal Rescue said they will not place Spot in a new home for at least two to three weeks.

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