Dog Whose Death Was Faked Is Now Home Safe
Photo: KSDK
A dog who has been at the center of a two-year court battle was withheld from his family, who was also told he was dead.

Jamie Patterson and her seven children felt like their household was complete the day they adopted Mack, a boxer-mastiff mix. They adopted the pup from Rough Road Rescue in Perryville, Missouri in 2015.

Everyone was happy, but Mack was overly curious about the outside world and repeatedly escaped, reported KSDK.

Dog Whose Death Was Faked Is Now Home Safe
Photo: KSDK

When Mack was found by Steve Svehla, director of Rough Road Rescue, Svehla accused Patterson of neglect, and refused to give the dog back to her.

The Battle Begins

Patterson was not giving her dog up without a fight – a big one. She never could have suspected what she would come up against during the battle which ensued.

For two years, Patterson and Svehla fought for custody of the dog. Svehla argued that Patterson had not met the requirements of the rescue’s adoption contract, which included having a fenced-in yard.

Svehla also made a case against Patterson, saying animals stay where they are wanted and that Patterson’s family must have had “a lot of chaos” going on in their household.

Dog Whose Death Was Faked Is Now Home Safe
Svehla, pictured here. Photo: KSDK

In retort, Patterson said she’d had a yard when she had adopted Mack, but the family had moved to a smaller home that didn’t have a yard after the adoption took place.

Due to his stipulation that adopters must have a fenced-in yard, Svehla decided to keep Mack and informed Patterson that he believed she had violated the terms of their agreement.

But Patterson wasn’t having it. She got an attorney.

Dog Whose Death Was Faked Is Now Home Safe
Patterson. Photo: KSDK

Soon after that, the judge ruled in the family’s favor, and ordered that Mack be returned back home to them.

The Sudden “Death” of Mack

But much to Patterson’s shock and disbelief, Svehla never delivered Mack. Instead, he brought her a box of ashes, and said that Mack had died of an infection.

According to Patterson, Svehla got out of his truck, handed her the box, said simply, “I’m sorry for your loss,” and then just left. She said her kids were devastated and began crying over the news of their beloved dog’s death.

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The judge caught wind of this, and actually ordered an investigation into the passing of Mack.

At that point, Svehla caved and admitted to faking Mack’s death. The judge sent him to jail for one night for contempt of court.

He has also been charged with felony theft and for failing to surrender Mack back to his family immediately when the cases was over.

Mack has since been returned to the Patterson home and they report he is happy and doing well.

Dog Whose Death Was Faked Is Now Home Safe
Patterson and her family walk Mack. Photo: KSDK

The Question of Who Was Right

Svehla admitted that he simply gathered the ashes of another dog he’d had to cremate and pretended it was Mack. He defended his actions, saying that it wasn’t a personal attack – he was simply trying to protect a dog who had been in his care.

He also presented documents from Patterson's former landlord claiming Patterson had neglected her animals, but these were never presented in court. So, their validity is in question.

Patterson and her family are just happy to have back the dog they consider a rightful member of their family.

So, what do you think? Do you agree with Svehla and feel that Mack needs a better home, or do you think he went too far in the name of animal rescue?

Full details of the entire controversy are presented in the video below:

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Cody has worked and volunteered with rescue animals her entire life. She worked as a veterinary assistant and technician in shelters, rescues, boarding facilities, doggy daycares and animal hospitals in New York and Chicago throughout her teens and twenties, and now resides as a pet foster mom in Upstate New York.