Judge orders pet shop owner, Clark Co. to settle pup custody - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Judge orders pet shop owner, Clark Co. to settle pup custody

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The 27 puppies rescued from a burning pet store were placed in the custody of Animal Foundation. (File/FOX5) The 27 puppies rescued from a burning pet store were placed in the custody of Animal Foundation. (File/FOX5)
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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

A judge Wednesday pressed the co-owner of a pet store and Clark County to settle ownership issues over 27 puppies that were rescued from a fire nearly two months ago.

During a civil hearing at Regional Justice Center, the judge placed a gag order for any proceedings involving the custody of the K-9s, urging representatives for pet store co-owner Donald Thompson and Clark County to settle in private.

The judge wants both sides to come up with a settlement in 45 days.

In addition, an injunction halting any adoption procedures on behalf of the Animal Foundation, which is sheltering the pups, was still in place, the judge ruled.

The pups were put in the care of the Clark County-owned Animal Foundation since the Jan. 27 fire at the Prince and Princess Puppies and Boutique the 6800 block of South Rainbow Boulevard. The store's co-owner, Gloria Lee, was arrested and booked into Clark County Detention Center, accused of planning the arson.

An associate of Lee, Kirk Bills, is also accused in the arson.

By the end of February, a raffle was to be held by the Animal Foundation for the right to adopt the pups.

Amid the shelter's planning of the raffle, the store's other owner and Lee's estranged husband, Thompson, challenged the county regarding ownership of the pups. Thompson's lawyer said he wanted the dogs to go to animal organization A Home 4 Spot.

Thompson's attorney said the organization has a better track record of finding good, permanent homes for animals.

As a result, Thompson sued the county over ownership as well as posted an $8,000 bond to halt the raffle process.

"It would be best if the two parties were to resolve this outside the courtroom, specifically without using more taxpayer resources to resolve this dilemma," Judge Kenneth Cory said.

Cory, a professed animal lover, called the lawsuit a waste of tax money.

"My courtroom is for people, not dogs. In a city where we have all kinds of human needs, perhaps we would be better off to expend resources there," Cory said.

Thompson's attorney, Jacob Hafter, made a last-ditch effort to get the dogs released, citing reports some of the animals have upper-respiratory problems.

"Two dogs we know are sick, very sick. We have veterinarian care immediately to take care of them, and loving homes for those dogs," attorney Hafter said.

Cory wasn't swayed, however. The Animal Foundation said six veterinarians are caring for the dogs.

Stay tuned to FOX5 for the latest on this developing story.

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