ABC News’ Matt Knox reports:
There are fat pets, and then there’s Obie.
The 5-year-old Dachshund tipped the scales at 77 pounds a few weeks ago. He was so chubby he needed a harness to hold him in so his body didn’t drag on the ground, and even a few steps wore him out.
Nora Vanatta, a former veterinary technician from Portland, Ore., who now works as an EMT, agreed to temporarily adopt him to help get his weight under control, but she quickly fell in love.
Others did, too. Vanatta appeared on national TV programs such as “Live With Kelly and Michael” with the overweight canine, and a Facebook page she created to document Obie’s weight loss now has more than 66,000 followers.
Such popularity has placed Obie at the center of a bitter custody dispute in Oregon court.
Oregon Dachshund Rescue, the agency that claims to be Obie’s owner, has accused Vanatta of exploiting the dog.
Vanatta is “wrongfully” holding Obie and “exploiting the dog for the sensationalistic promotional value of its unusual obesity,” the agency said in court papers it filed Oct. 22.
Translation: Group officials want the dog back because they think Vanatta is trying to get famous and pocket the donations that are now flowing in to help pay for Obie’s care.
“The money just sits there because he may need to have surgery to have his excess skin removed,” Vanatta told local ABC affiliate KATU-TV about the donations that have come in for Obie. “You know, we just don’t know where, what he’s really going to need.”
Oregon Dachshund Rescue also alleges that Vanatta is risking Obie’s health by not taking proper care of the dog, but vets “Good Morning America” talked to said there’s no one right way to help.
Vanatta said Obie has already lost 15 pounds and is doing better.
She has said her goal is to have Obie slim down by 40 pounds.
So who gets to keep the dog? A judge will decide Monday.