FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – A 10-year-old Detroit-area girl is suing to try to get her dog back from her mom's former boyfriend.
Hannah Wise says that Mitchell Rechter wouldn't return a poodle named Mystery after the Farmington Hills girl and her mother moved out of his home last spring.
Hannah is the plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in Oakland County with the consent of her mother, Adrienne Lenhoff, according to The Oakland Press of Pontiac.
According to the lawsuit, Rechter agreed to take care of the dog only while they got settled in a new home.
Hannah said Mystery was a gift from her grandmother three years ago.
"He was a part of me," the girl said. "He would come in my bed and snuggle up to me."
Rechter "wouldn't give me my dog back," she said. "And he knew that I cared about that dog so much. It was really heartbreaking for me."
On Friday, Hannah spoke about her experience to about 500 people during a storytelling event at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. The crowd cheered for the girl.
Rechter's lawyer, Jonathan Jones, responded to the girl's complaint, according to the Oakland County Clerk's Office, saying, "The plaintiff abandoned the dog, gave it to the defendant to take care of, knowing he wanted to care for the dog, and took another dog with her when she left."
Also, Jones said in a letter to Hannah's lawyer, Robert Zawideh, that based on the time that has passed Rechter is "attached to the dog and wants to keep it."
Lenhoff said Rechter became a father figure to her daughter during their relationship. She said the incident has given her daughter her first heartbreak.
"This has made her not trust adults," Lenhoff said. "A big part of her innocence has been taken from her because of this. These are lessons that no child 10 years old should have to be learning."
The trial is scheduled for July 2014.