Triple damages awarded in dog dispute

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SANDPOINT — A Bonner County dog breeder has been awarded a $141,825 default judgment against a Delaware couple accused of using her money to purchase two pedigree Shiba Inus for their own kennel.

Bobbie Johnson, operator of Firefoxx Shiba Inus in Priest River, will also receive the two dogs that gave rise to the dispute, according to a District Judge Steve Verby’s judgment against Tina and Lester King of Newark, Del.

Johnson sued the couple in 1st District Court in March, alleging that she paid Tina King $6,450 in 2008 for a male Shiba Inu bred in Spain and a female bred in Japan, where the breed originates from.

Shiba Inus are small, thick-coated dogs known for their agility. They resemble Akitas, although they are smaller in stature.

Johnson alleged she was pressured into paying for the dogs before a contract was drawn up because Tina King said the sale would “evaporate” if it were held up by a sales agreement, her complaint said.

Johnson intended to use the American Kennel Club-registered pair to improve the breeding stock at Firefoxx. But Tina King refused to turn over the show-quality dogs or refund Johnson’s money, the complaint said.

“The Plaintiff has been left with nothing but canceled checks and regret,” Johnson said in the complaint.

Johnson further alleged that Tina King showed the dogs at AKC confirmation trials, advertised them on her website and held them out as her kennel’s “foundation dogs.” King also allegedly embarked on a smear campaign against Firefoxx, calling the operation a puppy mill.

Johnson sued for breach of contract, fraud and libel, among other claims.

Johnson’s counsel, Sandpoint attorney Paul Vogel, moved for a default judgment earlier this month because the Kings never answered or otherwise responded to the suit.

Verby granted the motion on June 16 and awarded Johnson $47,275 in damages. The sum was tripled because the Kings’ conduct constituted a flagrant violation of Idaho’s Consumer Protection Act, the judgment said.

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