UPDATED Who Wants to Help Bail Scottie Out of Doggie Prison?

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Photo courtesy Joe Darlak

Update: SHAZAM! About 24 hours after the fund to free Scottie was set up, a bunch of generous folks donated $2,525 and exceeded the goal! Donations are no longer required -- but what is required is a big, fat pat on the back to the Animal Law Society and all those who contributed.

Eighteen months ago, the city of Abilene deemed Joe Darlak's lab mix, Scottie, a dangerous dog and locked him in a cage while Darlak fought the city. Darlak's options weren't great: If he wanted to spring Scottie from the shelter, he'd have to take out a $100,000 insurance policy -- not the easiest thing for a 70-year-old disabled Vietnam vet on a fixed income -- and then risk having that policy being used against him in court as evidence that Scottie was a menace. Or, he could leave Scottie in the shelter and have his friends and neighbors sign a petition that they all loved Scottie, and they could testify on Darlak's behalf, and hope the judge would see there'd been a mistake. He gambled on the latter, and lost.

So while Darlak finally got the insurance, he can't take Scottie home until he pays the city a $2,226 tab. Each day is an additional $4. But now the Animal Law Society of the South Texas College of Law is helping to raise funds to reunite dog and owner -- and you can help.

The ALS "is a group of law students with the common goal of raising awareness of animal issues through education, advocacy and scholarship, and advancing the interests of animals," according to the group's campaign.

For the last 18 months, Darlak has visited Scottie just about every day. According to Aaron Vannoy of Abilene Animal Services, these visits are the only time the dog gets any exercise.

As you might guess, Scottie hasn't exactly flourished during his stay. Darlak says the dog was at death's door a few months back -- he'd lost 20 lbs., was hacking up gigantic balls of phlegm and had what Darlak calls "nine-inch slime icicles" dangling from his nose. Of course, since Scottie was "dangerous," none of the shelter's vets wanted to treat Scottie [Vannoy has since corrected us, saying the shelter does not have a staff veterinarian. Local veterinarians are paid fees-for-service in the event of a cruelty evaluation or injury. So the veterinarians who declined to examine Scottie were private practitioners, and not shelter staff. "Only a few animals are seen by a veterinarian at our shelter with an intake of 12,000 animals annually," Vannoy told us in an e-mail.] Finally, Darlak says, he got permission for his own vet to examine Scottie, and the dog got the treatment he needed.

Darlak asked if he could pay in installments, but the city wasn't game. However, Abilene Animal Services did knock off $500 after hearing from ALS Sponsor and South Texas College of Law Professor Fran Ortiz. Now all that's left is to raise the $2,226 (plus $4 each additional day) so Scottie can go home. You can go here to donate.

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