U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David R. Jones sitting in Houston signed a court order on August 29, 2014, ordering the removal of dozens of Collie dogs that had been in the possession of Dr. Elaine Kmiec, an optometrist that is a debtor in a bankruptcy case. The judge then asked a charity, Houston Collie Rescue to handle the removal and subsequent care of the dogs pending their adoption.

The debtor had claimed at a court hearing that she only had 35 dogs. After the rescue on her property, around 100 Collie dogs were found. Many of the dogs were in deplorable condition, according to the collie rescue group's president, Vickey Willard. The judge as part of the same court order, also converted the debtor's chapter 13 case to a chapter 7 liquidation case, and struck her Schedule C as "the product of fraud."

The Court stated "(m)ost egregious is the fact that her (the debtor's) actions (en)danger the lives of 35 animals who cannot speak or protect themselves. The Court cannot condone the use of the bankruptcy process to inflict harm on deserving creatures."

Willard, the rescue group's president, said that the dogs are being cared for in an appropriate facility under the care of experienced volunteers. If you would like to donate, go to the group's website or by mail at Houston Collie Rescue, POB 526, Stafford TX 77497-0526.

Do you think the judge did the right thing? Do you think it was right that he took the debtor's dogs? What rights does the debtor have? The dogs? Please share your comments below!

J Thomas Black
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Board Certified, Consumer Bankruptcy Law- Texas Board of Legal Specialization
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