McKnight said Kyle explained that Diggity – whom she had renamed “Chulo,” - was having sinus troubles. When The Free Press asked McKnight why Kyle wouldn’t return the dog to her to comply with the contract, she replied in exasperation, “Why do people do anything they do?”

In Search Of Diggity: Humane Society Of Tampa Bay Drops Case Against Pawlicious Poochie Pet Rescue

McKnight said Kyle explained that Diggity – whom she had renamed “Chulo,” - was having sinus troubles. When The Free Press asked McKnight why Kyle wouldn’t return the dog to her to comply with the contract, she replied in exasperation, “Why do people do anything they do?”

In February and March, The Free Press reported The Humane Society of Tampa Bay had been sued by Pawlicious Poochie Pet Rescue of St. Petersburg.  

At issue was the Humane Society’s possession and adoption of a former service dog named Diggity who was microchipped and owned by Pawlicious Poochie.

Diggity watched over a Largo homeless man until he died of a drug overdose. Without a master, he was adopted by a woman named Emily Kyle through Pawlicious Poochie. Kyle contractually signed that she would not relinquish ownership of Diggity to anyone except Pawlicious Poochie.

Unfortunately, she failed to read her contract, according to a brief statement she made to The Free Press. She was also sued by Pawlicious Poochie for giving the dog to The Humane Society.

According to Pawlicious Poochie’s lawsuit, The Humane Society of Tampa Bay took possession of Diggity from Kyle’s boyfriend, used Pawlicious Poochie’s I.D. microchip to switch Diggity’s owner to a new owner – twice – and never contacted Pawlicious Poochie as Diggity’s rightful owner.

Jaime McKnight, Pawlicious Poochie’s Founder, submitted screen shots of its microchip to The Free Press to show it was used to transfer ownership of Diggity.

In response to Pawlicious Poochie’s lawsuit, The Humane Society attributed automatic transfer of Diggity to new owners on internal software that automatically transfers ownership without a physical scan of microchips. According to The Humane Society’s legal response, they scan microchips on lost or stray animals but not on animals surrendered by their owners.  How Kyle’s boyfriend qualified as a full or partial owner of Diggity is unknown.

Pawlicious Poochie’s legal counts against The Humane Society of Tampa Bay include “Tortious Interference of a Contract,” (Emily Kyle’s contract), “Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices” (allegedly misleading the public of who owned animals in their possession due to poor relations with other animal rescues) and “Replevin” (demanding the Sheriff to intercede and return Diggity to Pawlicious Poochie, and the courts to assess consumer protection fines against The Humane Society, according to Florida Statute, 501, Part Two).

“Bad blood” between the two animal shelter and pet rescue organizations began several years ago when Jaime McKnight became vocal about certain animals in the care of The Humane Society. In turn, McKnight was black-balled as a participant in Humane Society-sponsored events.

On April 11, Pawlicious Poochie’s attorney, Andrew J. Silvers of The Goodwin Firm in Largo, filed a Voluntary Dismissal of Count III, “Replevin,” against The Humane Society. However, it appears that Counts I and II of the lawsuit are still active.

Silvers could not be reached for details to discover why this count in the case was dropped and if Diggity has been returned to Pawlicious Poochie or remains under new ownership through The Humane Society.

The Free Press contacted The Humane Society’s CEO, Sherry Silk, on June 15 to confirm another recent court record release. It indicates that on June 2, The Humane Society voluntarily dismissed its “Libel and Slander” lawsuit against Pawlicious Poochie, which was a countersuit.

Silk said, “It’s true that it’s over. But I don’t think either party is going to talk.”

The Free Press made inquiry with The Humane Society’s attorney, J. Travis Godwin of Gunster, Yoakley and Stewart, Tampa, but received no response.

The Free Press continues to monitor this story for legal actions.

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