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Dog fight spawns GoFundMe effort to counter Rep. Kathy Watson

Molly, a West Highland terrier pictured in this file photo, was given to Paula Witmer, a disabled woman in Rapho Township, Lancaster County, by state Rep. Kathy Watson after Witmer found the dog on a rescue website.

The battle over a rescued West Highland terrier that sparked a lawsuit this summer between Pennsylvania legislator Kathy Watson and a Lancaster County woman has spawned a countersuit and a GoFundMe site.

Paula Witmer, who maintains that the Westie, Molly, is hers, is asking for financial support in her legal fight with Watson over who owns the dog and who can offer her the best home.

On her GoFundMe site, Witmer wrote, "I may not have as much money as Mrs. Watson, but I have gotten very acquainted with Molly, and she is a great part of my therapy."

Witmer is seeking the public's financial help to hire an attorney.
Watson, a Republican representing the 144th District, has sued to get her dog back along with $3,000 and court costs.

In her countersuit, Witmer, who has multiple sclerosis, is seeking to keep the dog as well as $4,000 for emotional and physical distress, said her caretaker, Megan Keller.

A hearing date has been set for Oct. 8 in a Lancaster district court.
On Friday, Watson said she had no comment regarding the escalating matter.

The story began in July when Watson listed Molly on a rescue website because, she said, Molly had become aggressive and "needed another home." Watson got the dog as a rescue five years ago.

Putting the dog up for adoption was "very unpleasant for me," the legislator, now serving her eighth consecutive term, said at the time. She also adopted Holly, Molly's sister.

Watson said she made it very clear that whomever got Molly had to have a fenced yard where the terrier could run freely.

After reviewing a number of requests, Watson settled on Witmer, a 51-year-old woman who has multiple sclerosis and receives support from several caretakers.

On July 11, Watson and her husband took Molly to Witmer's home, where the couple spent about 45 minutes before handing Molly over.

That was a Saturday. By Monday, Watson said she had a change of heart and wanted Molly back.

"I shouldn't have done this," she said she remembered feeling. "It was not healthy for her." Watson said she realized Witmer's outdoor area was "more a patio, not a yard."

Watson said she left the dog because she felt sorry for Witmer, due to her disabilities. She wants to find Molly another, more suitable, home.

However, Witmer and her caretakers firmly believe Molly is where she belongs.

"I love this dog and she loves it here," Witmer said in an earlier interview. "Molly chases squirrels and we take her to the park for walks. She sleeps with me," said Witmer, emotion rising in her voice.

"The dog is in perfect care ... it's like a child, you can't just take it back," said Keller, "They have an attachment."

"Paula's home is not a good home for Molly," Watson insisted last month. "It never was."

Witmer noted that since Watson has offered to get her another Westie, “she apparently knows this is a good home.”

Witmer and her caretakers characterized the communication by the state lawmaker as aggressive, saying Watson was angry in her phone calls and emails.

Watson, however, denies the accusations. "I absolutely never would do that. There's nothing I've written or done that is hostile," she said last month, adding, "I am very supportive of my dog."

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by BUCKSCOUNTRYCOURIERTIMES
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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