Are high profile abused dogs a ‘brand’?
Most people have heard about the case of Patrick, the Pit Bull mix who was repeatedly abused by his owner, Kisha Curtis. In 2011, Curtis left Patrick tied to the railing of her apartment for a week, before shoving the emaciated dog into a plastic bag and throwing him down a trash chute. Patrick was rescued just moments before he would have been compacted with the building’s garbage.
This past Tuesday Curtis pled guilty to charges of animal abuse, clearing the way for her criminal trial to finally proceed. As part of her guilty plea, Curtis has also agreed to forfeiture of Patrick, something she had fought against until now. Essentially, she was not only pleading not guilty to the charges, but was also demanding the right to have Patrick returned to her.
Unbelievable, right? After all, why would someone who so obviously didn’t care about Patrick’s welfare fight so hard to get him back? For the answer to that, we need to follow the money, which we can do in this case by simply reading the sentence that Associated Humane Societies of New Jersey (AHS) used to describe Patrick when fighting a court battle for their own custody of him –
(Patrick is a) “very valuable brand for commercial exploitation and fundraising”
As Nathan Winograd so succinctly summed up Patrick’s custody battle –
It is expected that the court will also determine whether Patrick is given to the only “loving home” which he has ever truly known: the home of the veterinarians who saved his life and want to keep him or whether he will be given to the Associated Humane Societies of New Jersey (AHS), which has sued those veterinarians (and the City of Newark) to gain custody of Patrick so that they could continue to exploit his name for money.
AHS is claiming “ownership” of Patrick because it was to their clinic that Patrick was immediately rushed for emergency treatment after being pulled from the trash chute of Curtis’ New Jersey apartment building. Once stabilized, the dog (as yet un named) was transferred to Garden State Veterinary Services (GSVS) in Northern New Jersey. Since it was St. Patrick’s day weekend, staff at GSVS named him “Patrick”, hoping that the “luck of the Irish” would help the severely starved and dehydrated dog survive his injuries.
Patrick’s recovery has been nothing short of a miracle, and the Veterinarians and staff of GSVS have been responsible for that, spending hours nursing him back to health. As the only loving home Patrick has ever known, a GSVS Veterinary Nurse who particularly bonded with Patrick has long hoped that Patrick will be allowed to live out his life with her, as a family pet, once the court cases are over.
AHS, however, has other plans. They want “trademark registration number 23699″ (that’s how they refer to Patrick in their court documents) to be returned to them, so that he can live out his life at the AHS Forked River Shelter that shares property with the AHS Popcorn Park Zoo.
Their reasons? Denying AHS ownership will, in the words from their court documents, “deprive AHS of its property interest in Patrick”, resulting in “significant losses” of “economic advantage”.
In other words, ‘we won’t be able to keep using him to raise money’.
AHS believes that what’s in Patrick’s best interest is to spend his life essentially on display at their
zoo shelter, where he can continue to operate as a fund raising cash cow, and to that end they are suing both the City of Newark and the GSVS veterinarian that saved Patrick’s life. In fact, by even writing about Patrick, myself and any other bloggers could be violating what AHS claims is their ‘intellectual property ownership’ of any stories, articles or images of or relating to Patrick (affectionately nicknamed “Trademarky Mark”, I’m willing to bet).
Figure above taken from Court Filing of Associated Humane Societies Inc. Vs City of Newark and Garden State Veterinary Services
Read Nathan Winograd’s excellent full story on the fight for control of Patrick here, and the Patrick Miracle Facebook page has a step by step break down of Patrick’s history and current status.
You tell me – where should Patrick be allowed to stay? Is he a “fund raising brand”, or an abused dog who deserves a chance at a new life?