An international incident along the North Dakota/Saskatchewan border was resolved, at least temporarily, in a Minot courtroom earlier this month.
The intriguing case involved a wandering dog, Rocco, who normally resides in Enniskillen, Saskatchewan, a small community located just north of the United States/Canadian border. Rocco decided to make a visit to the U.S. by crossing the border into Burke County. Rocco was apprehended in Flaxton by an area resident who took the dog to his farmstead near that community.
Enter the Burke County Sheriff’s Department, who had a deputy make a visit to Rocco and, sometime thereafter, received a call from the dog’s owner saying that his Anatolian Shepherd cross is known to wander. All of this happened in February of this year.
As this now international event unfolded, and the dog’s owner sought to have Rocco returned to his custody, the matter became a legal fight. Amber J. Fiesel, Burke County State’s Attorney, submitted a Petition for Disposition of a neglected, abused, or abandoned animal to allow for Rocco to be placed for adoption.
What followed was a series of legal maneuvers, including attorneys, and a demand for a change of judge. The case was finally plunked down in front of North-Central District Judge Stacey Louser. Louser heard the civil case, which included witnesses, on June 1.
There was noticeable tension in the courtroom. At stake was on which side of the border would Rocco get his next bowl of food, and whether or not the matter would spark a full-blown international incident between two friendly countries.
After hearing both sides of the case, which didn’t include an appearance by Rocco, it was up to Louser to say whether Rocco might become a U.S. resident or be returned to Canada. The judge ruled in favor of the latter, ordering that Rocco be immediately returned to Enniskillen owner Chad Carlson.
End of story? Possibly. Then again, maybe not.
Louser also ruled that Carlson was liable for all costs of caring for Rocco from the time the dog was seized until released back to its owner, a period of nearly four months. However, Carlson may request a hearing to determine whether or not those costs are reasonable.
Rocco was unavailable for comment.