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Homeless man wants his dog back

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.


Comment from kim
Time September 7, 2010 at 11:04 am

last night, a neighbor of mine discovered a dog tethered to a tree in the middle of an empty field with no food & not water.

when we brought her some water/food, it was obvious she was both hungry & thirsty.

last night, there was a terrible storm that dumped rain and is still dumping rain… and will continue to dump rain (the news is reporting a heavier storm moving toward us).

30 minutes ago the neighbor decided to untie the dog (who was dripping wet & eating the water-logged food out from under the flipped-over bowl that we’d given to her last night) from the tree and take it to the humane society.

i was directed to this post via @Ntl_Homeless on twitter… what a coincidence!

i certainly agree that Leonard should get his dog back…

Comment from Miss Jan
Time September 8, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Isn’t Liberty Humane the “humane no-kill shelter” that is under official investigation for killing animals (despite it’s claim of being a no-kill, they allegedly killed 26 dogs or more because they were “out of room”) AND is involved in a lawsuit against those who brought some of their worst practices to the public’s attention? I believe there is a viral outrage going on all over the internet about this shelter in Jersey City. I guess, fromwhat I have read, they aren’t exactly playing by the book and obviously inthis case animals aren’t the only ones on the receiving end of their numerous cruelties!

Comment from Pamela
Time September 8, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Although being homeless is certainly a big stressor for a human, a dog in the near-constant company of their person could have a pretty good life. I hope Leonard and the dog’s adoptive family are able to come to terms.

Comment from Erich Riesenberg
Time September 10, 2010 at 4:54 pm

The question should be why was the dog not returned? The story I read is that it was sold by someone other than its owner. Was the shelter trafficing stolen property? And why?

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