Divorced Couple Duke It Out Over Frozen Dog Sperm

IMAGE: Dog sperm dispute

When you start fighting about frozen dog sperm, you know the relationship isn't headed anywhere good.

Two divorcees who once had an amicable, post-divorce relationship and business partnership are each claiming ownership of valuable frozen semen taken from three stud-worthy Bullmastiffs, two of which are deceased.

While dog breeding can be a serious hobby and, in some cases, the foundation for a business, the quarrel over the frozen sperm of Cyrus, Romeo and Regg has prompted more than a few chuckles in the Pontiac, Mich., courthouse where the case is playing out.

"The first thing I said is, 'Am I being Punk'd?" Oakland County Circuit Court Family Judge Cheryl Matthews told ABCNews.com. "I mean, come on."

"At the time people in the courtroom were roaring when they argued the motion," Matthews said.

But Karen and Anthony Scully are quite serious.

"It's something I've been a part of for a long time and they are important to me," Anthony Scully said of his dogs.

The two, who divorced in 2002 but went on to run a kennel together, were in court Wednesday responding to a motion filed by Anthony Scully over ownership of several dogs when Karen Scully requested the frozen semen during the course of her oral argument.

Frozen sperm can be banked for years to use in breeding.

When the couple divorced, they agreed to split up their six dogs. But, according to Anthony Scully's motion, his ex-wife moved to Florida and abandoned all six, later taking custody of two female Bullmastiffs that had been bred from two of the couple's dogs.

Bullmastiffs are among the biggest dogs in the world, weighing in excess of 100 pounds, some coming in close to 200 pounds.

The American Kennel Club requires the signatures of all co-owners when a dog is bred in order for the resulting puppies to be AKC-registered, which significantly ups the puppies' value and standing and allows them to be shown at sanctioned dog shows.

Frozen Dog Sperm New Territory for Lawyers

Because the Scullys are listed with the American Kennel Club as co-owners of the dogs, Anthony Scully cannot make any breeding decisions without his ex-wife's permission. To that end, he has requested her name be removed from the paperwork for four remaining dogs and, in turn, he offered to remove his name from the two dogs she took back to Florida.

But because their divorce agreement did not include any specific provision for ownership of the dogs or the semen, stating only that their personal belongings have been divided "to their satisfaction," the Scullys had no choice but to bring their dispute to court.

Karen Scully could not be reached for comment, but her Michigan-based attorney, Christopher Nesi, told ABCNews.com that his client is looking for both monetary damages from the time and effort she put into both the dogs and the operation of Newcastles Kennels in Royal Oaks, Mich., which she ran with her ex.

He declined to comment specifically on his client's wish for the frozen sperm, but noted that the owner of a stud dog or its sperm can charge up to $1,800 to breed it with a female. And the resulting puppies can be sold, he said, for thousands of dollars.

"This is a novel and unique case for me," he said, "but I think we can apply the same principles" as in traditional property dispute cases.

Anthony Scully declined further comment about the case, as did his lawyer, Ryan Mae Steele.

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