Stray dog dispute heads for Portland courtroom

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A Portland man says a 45-pound dog that leaped the fence of his house last year and vanished is named "Chase."

The Oregon State University student who found a dog nearby and trained it to alert her when she's about to have an asthma attack calls it "Bear."

An animal control official says "Bear" is "Chase," and that the Portland man should have his dog back. The woman has sued, asking a court to rule that she is the dog's legal owner.

The confrontation over the ownership of the 2-year-old Siberian husky and mixed-breed dog arose by chance: Two months ago, Jordan Biggs was visiting in Portland and stopped for coffee at a coffee hut.

Sam Hanson-Fleming was in line and recognized the dog and its distinctive facial features. He says it recognized him, as well.

Hanson-Fleming says the two agreed to meet later for the return of the dog, but she told him by phone two days later she would not give up the dog.

Hanson-Fleming says he conducted an extensive search to find the dog. That included posting pictures on Craigslist and filing lost animal reports with Multnomah County Animal Services.

In a May interview with the Corvallis Gazette-Times, Biggs said that she had canvassed the neighborhood, posted fliers, called local animal shelters and checked Craigslist and other websites. She didn't, however, contact the Oregon Humane Society or Multnomah County Animal Services. After a while, Biggs figured the dog was hers, and she took Bear to OSU with her.

"If she'd have gone door-to-door, she would have come to our house," Hanson-Fleming told the paper.

Multnomah County Animal Services Director Mike Oswald investigated the dog's ownership under a county code that grants him the authority to settle animal ownership disputes. On Tuesday, he determined that Hanson-Fleming is the rightful owner.

On Wednesday, however, prominent animal law lawyer Geordie Duckler, of Tigard, filed a suit asking a judge to rule Biggs the rightful owner. Duckler didn't return a call for comment.