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No decision in reuniting man with his dog








A one-time school board president who in less than two years lost his wife, home and then his dog, appeared in federal court in Dauphin County Thursday to try and get his dog back.

But no testimony was heard in the case of Miles Thomas and his seized collie, Baron.  Instead attorneys were given 30 days to work the matter out amongst themselves, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reports.

“I would feel very badly if we couldn’t resolve this,” said District Judge John E. Jones III. “There is a very reasonable path to a reasonable agreement. … I am very hopeful that this conundrum can be worked out.”

Baron was picked up by the Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area in July after a police officer found the dog alone in Thomas’ car. The windows were slightly rolled down, but the Humane Society says the dog was panting, without water and covered with feces. Thomas was eating lunch at a restaurant nearby.

The Humane Society, while it says its actions were justified, has offered few other details, and Thomas’ attorney has said that Thomas, 73, though he was briefly homeless, deserves his dog back.

” I can’t get into the detail of how it’ll be worked out. I hope in the next 30 days, we can put this litigation behind us and move forward,” Andrew Ostrowski, attorney for Thomas, told CBS21.

Thomas, a former stock broker, once served as president of the Harrisburg School Board. In the past two years, he lost his wife, Anna, to Alzheimer’s, and later his home, after going into debt trying to cover her medical bills.

The federal judge ordered Ostrowski and Amy Kaunas, the executive director of the Harrisburg Area Humane Society to reach an out-of-court agreement in the case.

“I’m going to follow the judge’s orders and not comment on the case,” said  Kaunas. Kaunas left the courthouse with security, and the Humane Society told CBS 21 News that they had to hire protection after receiving threats in connection with the case.

The hearing ended with Thomas announcing that he would be able to visit Baron, who he hasn’t seen since July 26.


Comment from Miss Jan
Time September 4, 2009 at 11:09 am

Because this man was homeless due to his going into extreme debt on his late wife’s MEDICAL BILLS and because this man has a DOG who is probably the ONLY FAMILY HE HAS, this needs to be brought to the attention of the HEALTH CARE REFORM PEOPLE AND PRESIDENT OBAMA. This is a PERFECT EXAMPLE of how this nation’s current health care system not only destroys people’s lives but after utterly destroying them financially then turns to other local government agencies to PUNISH those trying to survive financial devastation. Unbelievably sad and shocking but NOT surprising given how local municipalities treat people. I am a continent away or I would personally help this man and his dog. And frankly you people/voters locally need to make sure that you do NOT re-elect the local authorities who are gleefully and obscenely literally taking life away from this destitute old gentleman who previously had a life of service in the incredibly challenging (and UNDERPAID)field of public education.

Comment from Mary Haight
Time September 4, 2009 at 1:51 pm

I agree with Miss Jan’s heartfelt statement.

We need neighbors to help the elderly and infirm care for their animals. I had a call on the shelter petline from a concerned neighbor years ago…she said the dog was out at odd hours, and one of the kids next door said the dog was too skinny and the lady seemed to be talking to herself often. I probed a bit to find out how willing these people were to help. They were…it was happening on their block.

I suggested they talk to her and offer their help, and perhaps a social worker was needed for services. I remarked that the woman might be having memory trouble, medication mix ups…you just never know.

They called me back to say that she was indeed having memory trouble, and that the caller was checking on her every day and had made a doctor’s appt she would take her to. The boy next door was walking and feeding the dog. It’s a stand out story in my mind–never happened again.

How else will people and their dogs be saved from slipping through the cracks and tumbling into the kind of trouble this man is having? We are stupidly proud and often won’t ask for help…why not offer some without being asked? I hope something can be worked out where both Baron and Thomas are well-served.

Comment from Miss Jan
Time September 4, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Thank you Mary and I would like to add that often people in need esp. with animals DO reach out and ask for help and unfortunately two things often happen: first they are ignored if not downright criticized for continuing to have a pet when the critic (often an institution or social agency or “wealthier” individual) doesn’t think the pet owner is “rich enough” to deserve a pet; or, second, there simply aren’t enough caring or concerned folks out there to help.

The way our society generally treats its elderly (and especially elderly poor) citizens is worthy of contempt by even the poorest of the third world countries who seem to value their elders more than we do, in my opinion!

I thank Mr. Woestendiek who writes this blog and seems to be a very kind and concerned person ifor publicizing this in a major newspaper – he is doing his best to help get this man some assistance in what must seem to be a cold uncaring impersonal world.

But again I cry SHAME on local authorities for this disgraceful incident.

Comment from Anne’n’Spencer
Time September 4, 2009 at 8:46 pm

I have to chime in and agree, too. We seem to be in increasingly serious danger of having dog ownership become a privilege of the rich. And when the day comes that this is so, the whole relationship between human beings and dogs will have been destroyed. They’ll become toys and playthings as opposed to being the friends and companions of all humanity–as they’ve been for, oh, 16,000 years or so.

This man needs his dog, and his dog needs him. Keeping the two of them apart is cruel and inhumane. The “Humane” Society needs to stand down and do a serious re-evaluation of what they stand for. After this incident and several others, I’m at the point where I can no longer support them or their programs. It’s terrible. I also think it’s perfectly understandable that they’ve received threats. What did they expect when they’ve behaved so heartlessly?

Mary, your story is heartwarming.

Comment from HOB
Time September 6, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Thanks for your follow-up.