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Layla — a dog most appropriately named for this particular story — has become the subject of a custody battle in Pittsburgh.

A pit bull mix, she served as an unofficial helper to her owner, a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder. But when he moved to a new apartment, Layla, lacking documentation as a service dog, wasn’t allowed to live there.

Tim McGill began working to get Layla certified, and in the meantime asked some friends to look after his 3-year-old dog.

Now McGill has gotten the certification, but he can’t get his dog back.

McGill served in the Army in South Korea and Iraq and left the service with a brain injury, anxiety and flashbacks, KDKA in Pittsburgh reports.

A doctor recommended a dog, and — though Layla wasn’t a certified service dog — having her by his side helped, said McGill, a tattoo artist.

McGill says he moved to a Lawrenceville apartment to go to the Art Institute, but that, without any documentation that Layla was a service dog, she wasn’t permitted to live there.

So he asked a friend, Laura Stratemier, to watch over Layla until he could get her certified. In exchange, he offered to repay her with free tattoos for both her and her husband.

Stratemier admits she was only supposed to have Layla for two weeks, but said that as time went by — six months worth of it — she realized the dog was better off with her.

By the time the certification papers for the dog came through McGill, Stratemier was unwilling to give Layla back.

KDKA reports that local animal control officials are looking into the dispute.

Comments

Comment from Service Dog Handler
Time May 1, 2013 at 7:25 pm

If the Dr. reccomended the dog the the vetran could have gotten a letter from the Dr. stating that the dog was part of his treatment and that it was a necessary part of such. The dog doesnt have to be labeled as a Service Dog. It actually is an Emotion Support Animal which under the FHA is also protected in housing.

Furthermore, I wish him the besst, thank him for his service, and ask that he be willing to look into all the laws pertaining to Service Dogs so that once he does get his Layla back he does not wind up in legal trouble and lose her again for claiming she is something she is not….. I would terribly hate to see such happen. http://www.ada.gov/Service_Animals_2010.html
http://www.servicedogcentral.org

Comment from KateH
Time May 1, 2013 at 8:54 pm

What a crappy ‘friend’ to have. What a horrible person to steal his dog. I wish her lots of guilt and sleepless nights, and I really hope he can get his – HIS – dog back.

Comment from smoketoomuch
Time May 2, 2013 at 7:29 am

she should be charged with, and arrested for, theft!
Give the man back his dog!

Comment from ANIMAL LOVER
Time July 20, 2013 at 7:51 pm

LAURA STRATEMIER,SHOULD BE ASHAME OF HERSELF. GIVE THE DOG BACK! THANK YOU,TIM MCGILL FOR YOUR SERVICE…

Comment from Richard Dockter
Time July 25, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Give HIS dog back, bitch. Tim, go to small claims court. You had an agreement with her and she breached it. Sue her ass and take back your dog.

Comment from rhonda
Time July 27, 2013 at 10:07 am

give him back his dog already.

Comment from brandon stratemier
Time December 15, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Its actully him who asked laura to take care of layla for 2 weeks. But after months past nothing he only gave us tattos for free cause he knew that he has a place where he isnt aloud to have her. Pluse all the work he did is messed up. O also when laura got layla, layla had bugs all over her privet parts and she was skinny

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