After two-year legal battle, judge orders champion dog returned to East Naples owner

Photo courtesy of the Lundin family 
 Ron Lundin with his dog Krystal, a Bedington Terrier.

Photo courtesy of the Lundin family Ron Lundin with his dog Krystal, a Bedington Terrier.

A 6-year-old grand champion Bedlington terrier is at the center of a tug of war between her owner and a Marco Island breeder who claims to be her co-owner.

Collier Circuit Judge Hugh Hayes this week ordered Nadine Peterson to return the dog to Ron Lundin of East Naples after a nearly two-year legal battle that began when she asked to show the dog, named Krystal, on the Bedlington terrier show circuit.

Under the judge’s ruling, granting Lundin’s motion for partial summary judgment, Peterson, who owns Marco Pet Salon, must return the dog by Thursday.

But Peterson’s attorney, Pedro Cofiño of Miami Beach, filed an emergency motion to stay that judgment. It notes many of the issues in the lawsuit and Peterson’s countersuit — including when Krystal can be bred and shown and reimbursing Peterson for showing her — haven’t been decided.

Cofiño declined to comment.

“It’s over as far as who owns the dog permanently,” said Lundin’s attorney, Ray Bass of Naples. “ ... We will object to a stay because it is unlikely that the order being appealed will be reversed — and the fact that the dog’s expected life span is at the halfway point.”

Bass doubted the judge would consider a stay because he already denied one at a hearing this week. However, for Hayes to consider it, Peterson must first file an appeal with the appellate court, which hasn’t been done.

The problem began, Bass said, when Peterson asked to show the dog, telling Lundin the American Kennel Club required his signature as a co-owner with hers, but called it a technicality.

“She said she wanted to get known as a champion dog breeder. This was a champion dog. She came from a good bloodline,” Bass said. “The AKC warns people against doing this because these kinds of things happen.”

Lundin contends Krystal was taken to shows to be bred and then was stolen from him. When Peterson wouldn’t return her, he feared she was pregnant.

“This could happen to anybody,” Lundin said. “It’s so scary. I don’t want anybody to go through what I went through. It’s been pure hell, a nightmare.”

Krystal’s tale began in 2008, when Lundin purchased the puppy from Peterson for $1,200. He purchased Krystal after his 17-year-old Bedlington terrier, Bristol, died.

Court records provide this account:

As Krystal neared her first birthday, she began having bladder problems. After living with Lundin for a year, Peterson asked if she could show Krystal. Although Lundin had no interest in showing his dog, he relented, but refused to sign a written agreement. However, in return, Peterson agreed to seek medical advice about Krystal’s bladder problem while traveling.

Peterson registered her as Williamshire’s Krystal Blue Jewel and, between shows, Krystal stayed at Lundin’s home. After about two years, Peterson asked if she could breed Krystal. Lundin refused.

Lundin tried to get his dog back by going to Peterson’s home and shop, prompting Peterson to call police and have him arrested. He told police Peterson bit him. Witnesses supported his account and a battery charge was dropped. Peterson then obtained a restraining order.

Lundin later discovered Krystal had been pregnant that day. Peterson gave away one puppy, sold five for $1,500 each and kept a female.

After Peterson repeatedly refused to return Krystal, Lundin sued in August 2012. The replevin, which seeks return of wrongly detained property, valued Krystal $20,000 and also accused Peterson of battery.

In July, Hayes ordered Peterson to return the dog. However, Peterson posted a $20,000 bond with the court registry. Under the replevin statute, a bond for Krystal’s value allows the losing party to keep the property being detained until a final judgment.

In August, Peterson countersued, contending they were co-owners and the shows have cost her at least $75,000, but Lundin promised to pay show expenses. She accused him of assault and slander for telling people on the show circuit she was not a reputable breeder, steals from clients and lies, and alleged he had no interest in seeing Krystal and agreed to breed her.

Lundin filed an answer, denying the allegations. He also filed an affidavit that says he thought Peterson had the dog’s “best interests at heart. ... The pain and damage that Ms. Peterson has inflicted on the Lundin family, through her greed and deception, is irreparable.”

Lundin has obtained an agreement with the AKC that prohibits anyone from breeding Krystal or registering her puppies. He said he didn’t want to be responsible because they were sold under the false pretense that Krystal had no health issues.

Laurie Friesen, vice president of the Bedlington Terrier Club of America, said the dogs sell for $1,200 to $1,800 and live to be 15 or 16. Krystal’s value now would depend on her future litters, the average size and value — if she can be bred, she said. She knew of the lawsuit, but didn’t want to comment or take sides, adding, “It’s an ugly situation.”

She said the AKC discourages co-ownership, but if there is one, it recommends an “ironclad written agreement.”

“Krystal is very happy, so outgoing and friendly,” Friesen said. “When Nadine Peterson has Krystal, you can see she loves her so much, she loves her to pieces. This is probably hard for her to give her up.”

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