William C. Leonard Jr., who lives underneath a bridge in Jersey City, wants Franklin back.
Jersey City animal control picked the dog up last month after finding it tied to a post. The beagle-basset mix was taken to the Liberty Humane Society, and later adopted by new owners.
Leonard, 49, a former county and city worker, said Franklin was given to him by a homeless friend, along with a bag of dog food and the dog’s veterinary records. “I fell in love with him,” Leonard said, describing Franklin as his “friend” and “baby.”
The dog was taken away on Aug. 6 after neighbors noticed he had been tied to a pole next door to the EZ-Market Liquor Store, said Joseph Frank, the city’s animal control officer.
But Leonard turned up at the animal shelter the following day, demanding the dog be returned. Leonard said he provided the dog’s veterinary records as proof of ownership, but was not given the dog because he is homeless, NJcom reports.
“I’ve got all my faculties about me. I’m not an idiot. I’m just homeless,” said Leonard. “I want my dog back.”
The dog was adopted by new owners on Aug. 18.
Freeholder Bill O’Dea tried to help Leonard. “He shouldn’t be punished because he happens to be homeless,” O’Dea said. “Obviously he was able to care for the dog for a substantial amount of time before (Animal Control) got involved.”
Liberty Humane Society Director Nikki Dawson — appointed after the incident — said the shelter did not release the dog to Leonard because he is homeless, but that the shelter has since changed that policy.
“I would have returned the dog and from now on, if someone has proof of ownership, the animal will be returned to them,” Dawson said. She said it’s possible that Leonard and Franklin could be reunited — if the new owner gives up the pet.