Custody Battle over Patrick, the Starved Pit Bull

By Lisa Spector, Juilliard Graduate, Canine Music Expert and co-founder of Through a Dog’s Ear.

On April 1st, I wrote about Patrick, the Pit Bull puppy who was starved, neglected and thrown out with the garbage in Newark, New Jersey. Currently, Kisha Curtis is on trial and pleaded not guilty to charges of animal abuse.

In the past six weeks, Patrick has become a household name among animal lovers. Petitions have been signed by thousands in hopes of creating tougher Federal laws prosecuting people charged with animal neglect.

Newark, NJ mayor Cory Booker said “Patrick’s story is one of countless instances of animal cruelty taking place daily around the world. It is a reminder that many animals suffer appalling abuse, and without our help, cases like this will end even more tragically. It is my hope that through spreading awareness and working together, we can help save many of these defenseless animals from abuse and neglect.”

While Patrick has been under the loving care of  Garden State Veterinary Specialists, (GSVS) his weight has doubled, he has recovered from surgery, he enjoys frequent walks, plays with toys, tugs with a tug toy, and is loved and adored by the staff at GSVS. But, Associated Humane Societies (AHS) claimed that it has legal ownership of Patrick and they want him removed from GSVS and placed into their shelter facility at Popcorn Park Zoo. The Zoo is a refuge for farm, wild, and domestic animals who have had hard lives.  They believe that while Patrick is recovering physically, he is not receiving the appropriate socialization needed at his young age. AHS filed a motion that claims they legally own the dog because they initially took him to their Newark shelter before deciding to move him to GSVS.

“Patrick is no different than any other stray or abandoned picked up in Newark or any other city — once he was rescued by AHS, he became the property of AHS,” the motion reads. “AHS did not surrender possession or control of Patrick, but merely turned the dog over to GSVS for treatment, with the expectation that Patrick would be returned to AHS once his medical condition improved and he was able to be released.”

On April 22, AHS commented on their website, “Over the last few days, Patrick has displayed some bad behavior that should be corrected before it worsens.” I have to admit that I cringed when I read those words. After recently reading The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant, the rescue and redemption story of the Michael Vick dogs, I learned a great deal about the rehabilitation of abused dogs. You can’t rush a dog’s emotional recovery, and “correction” of a “bad” behavior will only cause more behavior problems in the long run. Some of the Vick dogs that have since been adopted and have adjusted extremely well  in their forever homes showed little progress for months. In some cases, the development observed was so minuscule, even months later, that it took the observation and patience of someone monitoring every single minute behavior to even record it as improvement.

And I wonder how much it will hinder Patrick’s growth to be moved away from his loving caretakers to a shelter environment. When one of his care-takers at GSVS wants to adopt him, I question why AHS would choose to move him to their shelter. It seems that even placing him in a foster home after his health continues to improve would be a better option, before placing him in his forever home.

According to an attorney for the City, Mayor Booker has ordered Associated Humane Society to take no further action with regards to Patrick. “Patrick should stay with the veterinarian who is caring for him and should be adopted by the caregiver who he has bonded with. That is what is best for Patrick, even if it is not in the best interests of Associated Humane Society’s pocket book.”

What do you think? Should Patrick be placed in the Popcorn Park Zoo?

Photo Credit: Garden State Veterinary Specialists. The photo was sent to me as a thank you response for sending him a Through a Dog’s Ear CD.

As co-founder of Through a Dog’s Ear, I am offering my Care2 readers a free download from our latest release, Music to Calm your Canine Companion, Vol. 3. Simply click here and enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy.
Image: Patrick resting at Garden State Veterinary Specialists


Spencer S.
Spencer S3 years ago

Dog happiness wins over profits!

Renato G.
Renato G8 years ago

Great News , i've been following up "his" crucial moments .... Doing the best i can to save him over & over ....

Rani K.
Rani K.8 years ago

Great news!. Custody battle is over for the time being everyone. Patrick has been handed over to his present carers under the judges ruling which was set for 2nd June. There are lots of new pictures.

Collette T.
Collette T8 years ago

I think Patrick should stay where he is. They know what he needs and are willing to give him that. He deserves a happy forever home.

Michele T.
Michele T8 years ago

AHS is making a huge mistake with Patrick. They are losing all credibility. It seems that all they care about with their comments are the issues of control and money. They should be happy that he is doing so well and that one of his caretakers wants to adopt him. This would help Patrick in that he would experience little change. He has been through too much. Surely AHS has way more animals that need help. Maybe they could concentrate on them and just be grateful that they helped save a desperate dog and move on. They are really starting to make me sick. They should remember that horrible woman that ran a rescue group in California that adopted a dog to Helen Degeneres. Remember what happened there because some stupid, control freak decided to show a nice person who just happens to be rich and famous who was in charge? It cost that group a lot of money and they lost credibility and everyone saw them for what they were: egos and power. It was sickening, people are so petty. Leave Patrick alone, you started out great but you have lost your way.

Eleanor G.
Eleanor G.8 years ago

It seems crazy how rescues will deny someone the opportunity to adopt when there are thousands of other dogs out there in need of rescue. If a staff member at GSVS wants to adopt Patrick, I say go for it! It's not like he's not going to be taken care of. Usually, veterinary staff are some of the best pet owners there are. I suspect that the humane society has an ulterior motive for keeping Patrick. It's not like GSVS is trying to steal the dog - someone is willing to adopt Patrick!

Madeline B.
Madeline Bolbol8 years ago

I think the zoo wants the publicity of having Patrick always on display. Do what is right for him and allow him the opportunity to be a part of a loving and caring family. He certainly is entitled to that.

Michelle T.
Michelle T.8 years ago

pretty much the story itself tell's where patrick should be....leave him where he feel's the love....

May Howie
may Howie8 years ago

Leave the poor dog with the people he knows and loves, he is doing well and thriving,if he was to be put in a ZOO, i think it would break his heart, the poor boy would not know why the people who love him and he loves them got rid of him,LEAVE PATRICK ALONE

Karen B.
Karen B8 years ago

For heavens sake, Patrick is truly a miracle dog. After all he has been through, he deserves the best life possible, not holed up in a ZOO. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THOSE PEOPLE. THEY BELONG IN A ZOO. I PRAY THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR PATRICKS FUTURE, DECIDE TO ADOPT PATRICK OUT TO A GOOD FOREVER HOME.