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Author Topic: Shalanda & Jazz - it's way past time for public outrage - Get Jazz home!!  (Read 1792 times)
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« on: November 26, 2007, 10:10:31 AM »

This article ran in the New Orleans Times Picayune on 11/23/07

For eight years, Shalanda Augillard lived with her black cocker spaniel, Jazz. The Kenner woman lost her dog in Katrina's aftermath but says she was reunited with it in 2006 in Hays County, Texas. The exuberant reception she received from the dog, along with some DNA evidence, are proof enough for her that the cocker spaniel is indeed her longtime pet.

A Texas judge disagreed, however, granting custody of the spaniel renamed Hope to a Texas woman who adopted the dog after the storm.

Yet after a legal battle of about 18 months, and at least 10 trips back and forth to Texas, Augillard said she isn't close to giving up.
"After having a dog for eight years, it's just like having a child," she said. "You know your child when you see them."

This is just one of what could be 100 or 200 pet custody battles that have made their way to the courts since Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, said Roger Kindler, general counsel for the Humane Society of the United States.

However, he said that is a small fraction of the total number of pets separated from owners by the storm. At the largest shelter housing Gulf Coast pets, in Gonzales, about 8,000 pets stayed temporarily. Many were successfully reunited with their rightful owners, Kindler said.

Augillard worked at Louis Armstrong International Airport until shortly before Katrina hit. She left her dog with her mother in her family's two-story home in the 7th Ward. The first floor flooded during Katrina, but the second stayed dry and served as a haven for Augillard's mother, grandmother and other elderly people on A.P. Tureaud Avenue, Augillard said.

Left behind

When rescuers evacuated the family onto a boat, they told Augillard's mother that she couldn't take Jazz. She left the dog on the second floor, accessible to a well-ventilated porch and plenty of food and water, Augillard said.

But when Augillard returned Sept. 8, she said, the door had been kicked in and Jazz was gone. The food and water were still there.

For several months, Augillard searched for Jazz, checking the state shelter in Gonzales and numerous Web sites for clues about the dog she had raised from a puppy.

Meanwhile, Augillard learned through Internet searches that a black cocker spaniel was taken to the Jefferson Feed, Pet & Garden Center, a temporary shelter in Old Jefferson. From there, it was taken by the animal rescue group PawMatch to Texas and ultimately adopted by Tiffany Madura. In Texas, a veterinarian treated Hope for mange and removed two golf-ball-sized bladder stones, said Madura's attorney, Michael Murray.

"The dog was in extremely bad shape," Murray said.

He said Augillard had testified in a first affidavit that her dog was healthy and that early vet records, which went up to 2001 or 2002, showed that Augillard took good care of the dog.

"This dog was anything but healthy. It was pretty clear this couldn't be her dog," Murray said.

Augillard's attorney, Susan Philips, said Jazz had some medical problems but was being treated regularly. Jazz was on a special diet and on medication to treat skin and thyroid conditions, Philips said.

"She didn't get her medicine for approximately two months," Philips said.

In December 2005, Augillard first got an inkling that the dog with Madura was hers. A Virginia woman referred her to the PawMatch Web site, where Augillard saw a photo she believed to be of Jazz, who has distinctive white markings on her face.

After attempts to initiate meetings failed, Augillard sued Madura in May 2006. She got a temporary restraining order, moving the dog from Madura's home to a kennel.

That led to the meeting in Hays County, Philips said.

"When she saw Shalanda, she just went nuts running in circles," she said.

The legal fight has even included DNA evidence from a half sister of Jazz, and allegations that someone grabbed a sample of the dog's hair to get a possible DNA match.

Judge lets dog stay

In June, a judge sided with Madura, saying in effect that he didn't think the dog was Jazz. The case is now in appeals court.

Philips said she thinks this is the first pet custody case to get this far and be lost by a Katrina victim. Kindler, the Humane Society attorney, said he is not sure about that but added that "the greater amount of time since Katrina, the lower odds of the plaintiffs winning."

"If the animal has a reasonable home, there's a tendency of the judges to leave them there."

Adding further drama to the case was a confrontation in the courtroom after a DNA hearing in December 2006, when Augillard allegedly attacked Madura, tearing a clump of her hair from her head. A charge from that incident is pending, Murray said. Philips said she isn't representing Madura on the charge and would not comment.

Augillard said she also would not comment about the allegation.

"I can't really speak on it," she said. "Put yourself in my shoes and look at the amount of money I've spent and the time I've lost from work. You step outside of yourself. This case has definitely taken me outside of myself."

Augillard said she has made 10 trips to Texas to fight for the dog. Although Philips said much of the money for legal fees was donated, Augillard has had to pay her travel and hotel bills and for the dog's two-week kennel stay during the restraining order. She is trying to raise money in Texas to help pay the lawyer handling her appeal.

And she isn't ready to give up.

"I just want to show her that I didn't forget about her," Augillard said of Jazz. "And I still love her, and I will fight until the end for her to come back to Louisiana."

Posts: 1

« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2007, 08:33:15 PM »

Ms. Augillard made her way to her parent's residence on 9/8.

What was the date that her parents were evacuated?

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