After legal fight, dog reunited with Katrina evacuee

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A dog named Pablo, the focus of a legal battle, was reunited in Baton Rouge today (Friday) with a Louisiana woman who lost track of the pooch after being evacuated from Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters.

Paula Duming was forced from her Chalmette home in the days after the town was inundated, but her rescuers would not allow Pablo in the helicopter. She left him behind with food and water. When Duming returned home about a month later, the dog was gone.

Duming traced the animal to the Animals Benefit Club of Arizona, which had found a foster home for the dog in December 2005, with Dustin Jones and Wendy Shieh of San Diego. The couple adopted him the next month and named the terrier-Chihuahua mix "Boots."

The Utah-based Best Friends Animal Society, which rescued Pablo from the floods, paid for a lawsuit to get Pablo back to Duming. The organization argued that the dog belonged to Duming and should not have been put up for adoption. Jones and Shieh argued in the case that Boots had been misidentified and was not really Duming's dog Pablo.

But an Arizona judge ruled this week that the animal's vaccination tag and descriptions of its choke chain indicated that Boots and Pablo were one and the same. He ordered the dog returned to Duming.

The Best Friends group transported Pablo to Baton Rouge and staged the reunion at Louisiana's Capitol. The animal wagged his tail and ran to Duming when he spotted her at the top of the steps. Duming, who now lives in Lafayette, said she sympathized with Jones and Shieh, and understood that they had grown attached to the dog.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)