An animal lover is going to court to try to win custody of his beloved pet dog from his Derby ex-partner.
Mark Hefner-Johns says he’s lost without the companionship of friendly Basset Hound, Prada. He had three hounds with ex Melissa Knighton, and he took Gucci and Bentley with him when the couple split, but she still has Prada.
He says he has a legal right to Prada – but Ms Knighton says the dog was bought as a gift for her and she has rightful ownership. The dispute is now to end up in court in Derby in the next few weeks.
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The couple split in December and the household pets were divided. Mr Hefner-Johns, 46, who is currently out of work for health reasons, took Gucci and Bentley to his former home in Cornwall, but was unable to get to Prada, who remained in Ms Knighton’s care, along with her other dog and cats .
Mr Hefner-Johns claims that Ms Knighton, a full-time mum, took Prada, before he had the chance to get to her. He claims that in doing so she split up the pack of dogs, which has had a detrimental impact on the welfare of his pets.
Mr Hefner-Johns said: “I rescued all three dogs, all paid for by me, all using my bank account, registered to my address here in Cornwall. I have all the paperwork for it in my name, but by a simple turn of a key, she still has the dog in her property to this day.
“I’ve exhausted almost every angle – I’ve gone via the vets, I’ve marked her as stolen, I’ve gone to the police, the RSPCA. Three and a half months later I’m still fighting to get the dog back that’s always been registered in my name.”
But, Ms Knighton refutes these claims and believes that Prada was bought as a gift for her. She claims ownership of all three dogs and is desperate to reunite the pets with each other in her Matlock home.
She said: “No-one is putting the welfare of the dogs first, this is her home, this is her family and what effect would it have on her if she was taken away from the family? This is the only home she’s known.
“We decided on the grounds that if we ever split up, Gucci and Bentley would stay together, and Prada was mine.”
The dogs have a large following on social media, with Mr Hefner-Johns posting daily updates about the lives of Gucci and Bentley at his home. Mr Hefner-Johns has also previously launched a petition to help gain support for his attempt to get his dog back.
He added: “As we’re talking, the dogs are getting a bit whimpery because since Prada left, they’ve been insecure. I’ve looked after dogs for around 20 years and I’m well aware that you don’t split the pack of Bassets up.
“I’ve given her the chance to walk away from a dog that isn’t hers, and she’s ignored it.”
The case is due to be heard at Derby County Court in the next few weeks when the ownership of the dog will be decided.