A Minneapolis woman named Stacey Champion who tried last month to mail her puppy through the U.S. postal service to her 11-year-old son in Atlanta was denied in her appeal to regain custody of the dog today. Minneapolis Animal Care & Control Manager Dan Niziolek and Postal Inspector Jesse Swanson presented the City’s case against Champion, and a judge ruled against Champion, who will face criminal charges next week relating to animal cruelty. Champion admitted to the judge that she claimed to postal workers that the package was a “toy robot”. The judge today denied her custody of the dog.
Minneapolis Postal Inspector Jesse Swanson and colleagues were baffled that Stacey Champion tried to mail a puppy to Atlanta. They had never seen or heard of anything like this happening within the United States Postal Service. Following a court hearing that denied Champion custody of the dog, Swanson confirmed that the puppy would have perished had postal workers not discovered the animal inside the package — either by asphyxiation or freezing to death (the dog would have been airmailed at 30,000 feet in an unheated cargo hold).
Minneapolis Animal Care & Control officials, including Manager Dan Niziolek, express disbelief at Stacey Champion’s effort to send her live puppy in the mail. Following a court hearing at which Champion officially lost custody of the dog, Niziolek detailed the process by which the puppy can be adopted. He expects a long line of suitors, since this case has received so much media attention.
Here is a photo of the puppy, in the care of the City since Jan. 25. And below are details of subsequent legal proceedings regarding Champion, and the dog, from the City of Minneapolis:
“The Minneapolis City Attorney’s office has charged Champion with two counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. This morning’s hearing was a City appeals process that dealt with the care and custody of the animal, and is not part of the criminal court case. Since the administrative hearing officer denied her appeal, Ms. Champion now has five days in which she can file an appeal and injunction with the court system. In addition, she will be required to post a bond to cover the costs of the continued care of the puppy at the shelter until her court date on the criminal charges. That case has been set in Hennepin County district court for Feb. 28 at 8:30 a.m.
If the owner does not post a bond, the dog would become the property of Minneapolis Animal Care and Control, and he would be made available for adoption. If that happens, Minneapolis Animal Care and Control would let the public know in advance that the dog will be up for adoption on a certain date. While Minneapolis’ adoption policy is a general first-come first-served policy, the process involves a basic screening of potential owners to ensure that the owner and adopted animal are an appropriate fit for each other. If more than one person is interested and present at the shelter at the time the animal is made available for adoption, a drawing of all interested parties would take place. The person selected would then pay the adoption and license fees to adopt the puppy.”