ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Judge rules that the 130-pound Great Dane named Diesel legally belongs to Matthew Forslund
A yearlong legal battle over custody of a Great Dane is over, and the dog is staying in Albuquerque.
Bernalillo County District Judge Beatrice Brickhouse ruled Diesel, a black and white, 130-pound Great Dane, legally belongs to Matthew Forslund. Forslund sued his ex-girlfriend, Colleen White, after they broke up, and White took the dog with her when she moved to Illinois.
Brickhouse, in the opinion filed Monday, agreed with Forslund that White “deceptively absconded” with Diesel when she moved out of town in April 2009. The judge also said White’s refusal to bring Diesel back from Illinois for the trial weighed against her in the final decision.
White had said she couldn’t bring the dog back to Albuquerque because she couldn’t get enough time off work to drive out, and flying the dog would have been traumatic for him.
“We’ve been working really hard to get Matt his dog back, and we’re pleased. It’s a real relief,” said Forslund’s attorney, Don Harris. “Matt’s very happy.”
Forslund and White lived together for about 10 years in a Northeast Heights neighborhood. They acquired Diesel in February 2007, but split up in early 2009.
During the January trial, the two argued over who had bonded most with the dog, who was the legal owner and the circumstances of White’s departure from New Mexico with Diesel.
White said she was “heartbroken” by Brickhouse’s decision.
“I’m very, very disappointed that the judge couldn’t see that I was heartfelt in my desire to protect Diesel. Because I truly feel that he would be better off here with me,” she said. “I’ve lost my baby. It’s hard to think of anything else right now.”
White said she didn’t know if she would appeal.
The trial to determine who got to keep Diesel came after several mediation sessions failed. Forslund had traveled twice to Illinois in the past year to visit the dog, but both parties agreed a time-sharing agreement was not desirable.
White got into trouble with Brickhouse on the first day of trial because the judge had ordered that the dog be returned to Albuquerque during the trial.
“(White’s) refusal to return Diesel to New Mexico as ordered by the Court further substantiates (Forslund’s) version of events . . .” Brickhouse wrote.
Witnesses for Forslund and White testified to the attachment both showed to the dog, but in the end, Brickhouse believed Forslund.
“(Forslund) testified credibly to his greater emotional attachment with Diesel, as did his witnesses,” Brickhouse wrote.