Perryville, MO family fights for custody of their dog

PERRYVILLE, MO (KFVS) - Pet owners know how our animals can feel just as close as family. Imagine having your pet out of your custody for over a year and a half.

"I think having a dog is like having another child," said Jamie Patterson, the owner of Mack the dog in the center of this court battle.

Patterson adopted Mack about three years ago and then two Christmas Eve's ago he ran off. He was picked up by the shelter where he was adopted, Rough Road Rescue.

The shelter owner, Steve Svehla, claimed that Patterson had not fulfilled her agreement for the adoption. He claims out of the ten points they agreed upon that Patterson only fulfilled five. So Svehla kept the dog at his shelter. That's when Patterson took the owner to court, which started a long process.

Both in the initial case and an appeal that Svehla filed, the courts said Svehla had to return Mack to Patterson.

The exchange was supposed to happen under the supervision of Perry County Sheriff Gary Schaaf. Schaaf called Svehla and when he said they were coming over to pick Mack up Svehla said that he was already on his way into town with Mack. When he got out of his car, all he had was a wooden box.

"He was supposed to bring the dog here and turn it over to Miss Patterson," said Schaaf. "And he said the dog had been cremated and that's what was in the box."

Svehla said the dog passed away in May from a disease. Svehla admitted to KFVS that he was guilty of that and that he did lie to both the Sheriff and Patterson. He said that is the only time he believes he was doing anything wrong throughout the whole process but still says it was the right thing for the dog.

Now with Mack home, Patterson said that it is more hectic after more than a year and a half without him, but it's nice to have the family member back together.

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