Bitter Feud Over Family Dog Heads to N.Y. Court

A bitter custody battle over Golden-doodle Lucy Margaret Healy has instigated a family feud. (Credit: Jesse Ward)

A bitter family feud between three women has erupted in New York over the ownership of  a 3-year-old goldendoodle named Lucy.

Margaret Healy of Brooklyn, N.Y., claims that she is the dog’s rightful owner, since she has been its sole caregiver for the two years since the dog was given to her in the fallout from her brother’s divorce. The brother’s ex-wife and daughter, however, disagree.

According to court documents, Lucy and another dog began living with Healy two years ago, when her brother, Jim O’Hanlon, and his wife, Susan McCarthy, began divorce proceedings. McCarthy and the couple’s daughter, Slaney O’Hanlon, moved out of the family home, leaving two dogs behind. Slaney O’Hanlon went off to boarding school in Baltimore, and her father, unable to take care of the dogs, asked his sister to help.

Slaney O’Hanlon, now 18, claims that the arrangement was temporary while she was away at school, and now that she’s graduated and back in New York, she wants the dog returned.

Healy, meanwhile,  filed for licenses for the dogs, provided for them daily, and took them to regular check-ups at the veterinarian, according to her attorney, Michael Devereaux. The elder dog was diagnosed with cancer and eventually died, leaving Lucy alone with Healy and her husband.

In September, 2011, McCarthy left a voicemail on Healy’s phone, saying she had “just been informed that my dog died this morning, my duaghter’s dog. I want to know why the two of you did not let us know that this dog was sick. You have no f***ing heart,” she said.

McCarthy calls Healy another expletive and wonders how she can sleep at night since she had taken the dog from Slaney.

Healy filed a complaint with police, but  later that day, McCarthy and Slaney O’Hanlon came to the Healy’s apartment building and demanded the dog back.

According to Healy’s attorney, the women accosted and threatened Healy, then chased her in her car all the way to a police station. In a police report, Healy wrote that she had “never been so scared in my life.”

Stanley Alter, attorney for McCarthy, said the dog is rightfully Slaney’s and the truth will come out in court. Lucy, who he says was given to Slaney as a Christmas gift one year, has a microchip implanted under her skin identifying Slaney as her rightful owner.

Healy is seeking to be declared the rightful owner of Lucy and asking for damages from her former sister-in-law and niece for harassment.