tampabay.com

Judge rules against Katrina dogs' new owners

Early Edition: The judge's ruling means that the case over the dogs’ ownership now heads to a trial scheduled for April 16.

By DEMORRIS A. LEE
Published February 1, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG — A Pinellas County judge Thursday denied a motion that would have allowed two Tampa Bay women to keep dogs abandoned in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.

An attorney for Rhonda Rineker had argued that the Humane Society of Pinellas took legal custody of the dogs using lawful “police power” before adopting them out to Rineker and Hillsborough County prosecutor Pam Bondi.

But Judge Henry J. Andringa disagreed, saying “the two dogs in question were not impounded pursuant to the (county’s) ordinance.”

Andringa’s ruling means that the case over the dogs’ ownership now heads to a trial scheduled for April 16.

Steven and Dorreen Couture of St. Bernard Parrish, La., sued the Humane Society, Rineker and Bondi in June to regain ownership of two dogs they left at a makeshift shelter after Hurricane Katrina. They had been told at the shelter they could reclaim the dogs later, but their efforts to get them back have been unsuccessful. The dogs were brought to Pinellas County by the Humane Society in September 2005.