Oregon Judge Rules Obie, The Obese Dashhound, Must Stay With Foster Owner

In Oregon, Washington County Circuit Judge D. Charles Bailey has ruled rejecting a bid from a dog rescue organization to take custody of an obese dachshund named Obie weighting 77 pounds. Oregon Dachshund Rescue Inc. wanted to take Obie away from foster owner Nora Vanatta, a former veterinary technician. A Washington couple gave up Obie when they could not control his eating which seems a bit strange since Obie cannot buy food or set it out himself.


Bailey focused on the question of ownership. There appeared to be a lack of documentation in the foster relationship of Vanetta, but the court declared it was “not convinced that at this point in time this dog is any more ODR’s than it is Ms. Vanatta’s.”

The basis for the lawsuit was ODR’s view that Vanatta was mistreating Obie, including agreeing to appear on The Today Show where he was flown across the country in the cargo hold — not the place most of us would put a grossly overweight animal. ODR objected that Vanatta was parading the dog from one publicity stunt to another both locally and nationally: “exploiting him for the sensationalistic promotional value of his unusual obesity, earning money off of his public exhibition on national and regional television shows, and refusing to either provide the necessary veterinary treatment for his actual adverse medical conditions related to obesity, or to expend the monies she was generating from her public display of him on his actual health and well-being.”

Vanatta insists that she has succeeded in getting the dog to shred 15 pounds.

The ruling however will not be the end of the matter. The case will now go to mandatory non-binding arbitration. If either party is unhappy with the arbitrator’s decision, the case will go to a jury trial, which could take another three or four months.

The ruling is an interesting one since, in the case of a child and a foster parent, the result would likely be the opposite. It is unlikely under “the best interest of the child” that such media stunts would be viewed as proper or healthy (presumably however the child would not be transported in the hold of a plane). When considering an animal, the court appears more focused on ownership than such best interest determinations.

If the dog is owned by the human, few courts would intercede absent physical abuse or cruelty. Eating disorders are rarely viewed in such terms.

Should the “best interests of the pet” control in foster situations?

Source: ABA Journal

32 thoughts on “Oregon Judge Rules Obie, The Obese Dashhound, Must Stay With Foster Owner”

  1. A volunteer from Oregon Dachshund Rescue flew to New York with the foster mom of Obie. Foster mom’s attorney should make certain judge knows no criticism,no move to stop the dog from flying in the hold was made. Obie was very lucky,suggest that Obie only fly in cabin with people or only have media come to him.

  2. I remember a story from years ago about a woman who was struggling with the weight of her cat who was fat and continuing to gain. The cat’s name was pudding. The woman loved pudding and had some every night, as I recall. For each spoonful she ate she gave the cat one too and yet could not understand why it was overweight.

  3. Doggie might do well in a small swimming pool, could move without hurting his tummy and like that. Good exercise, no stress on his “knees.”

  4. “He weighed 77 lbs. when Nora got him. He is down to 62 lbs. in two months” Oh, phew! From the blog post, I concluded that poor Odie once weighed 92 pounds!

    Not all dachshunds are chowhounds, though. Two of the long-haired doxies I grew up with had fairly normal canine appetites, and one seemed to live on air. We called him the butterfly, with more fluttery “feathers” than dog to him. He was an energetic little charmer, but food – even steak or chicken – just didn’t interest him. Well, with one exception; he was crazy for the tangerines from our backyard tree!

  5. I inherited a very overweight cat that is much slimmer now due to a different and limited diet. The thing with an overweight cat or dog (my mom had a very overweight dog) is that weight loss is kinda slow going at first because they get so fat that exercise is difficult and dangerous due to the extra weight. You have to get some goodly amount of weight off of them just to be able to give them some exercise. With my kitty, I was told by the vet to take the weight off steadily and don’t try to take a lot off in a short time, it would mess up his metabolism and cause more health problems.

    7.5 pounds a month, if she’s had the dog 2 months, sounds like his foster mom is doing her job. 2 lbs. a week ain’t bad. I wouldn’t stress the dog out with trips, cargo holds or TV appearances though. That sounds beyond the pale to me. Fund-raise (if needed) via the Internet only IMO.

  6. Much ado about nothing. I hope the court system is not backlogged by important cases in this jurisdiction.

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