Steamboat court hearing will determine custody of husky |

Steamboat court hearing will determine custody of husky

This 8-year-old husky is at the center of a dispute expected to be resolved during a hearing Friday.
Courtesy photo

During a hearing Friday, it will be up to Routt County Judge James Garrecht to determine who is the rightful owner of a Siberian husky named Sitka.

“It’s basically a mini trial,” said Steamboat attorney Emily Kelley, who is representing Steamboat resident Ashlee Anderson.

Anderson is being sued by Cañon City resident Dr. Michael Gehrke, who claims the dog is his.

Anderson has had Sitka since September 2013, when she adopted it from a friend in Canon City, where she lived at the time.

Anderson and Sitka have become inseparable.

“The dog has essentially become a part of her family,” Kelley said.

In February, Sitka let herself out a partially open door in Anderson’s house in Old Town and was found a block away a few hours later.

When Steamboat Springs Animal Control scanned Sitka for a microchip, the information led them to a different owner who reported her stolen.

In mid-September 2013, Gehrke said the dog ran away from his property.

Gehrke said he adopted 10-week-old Mya in February 2010 from a friend for $1,200 to serve as a playmate for his 4-year-old shepherd, Rex.

“I want my dog back,” Gehrke said in February. “She was missing and now I know where she is.”

In exchange for being able to keep the dog, Anderson has offered to pay $1,200.

But Gehrke just wants his dog back.

Gehrke is being represented by Denver attorney Jay Wayne Swearingen, who specializes in animal law at The Animal Law Center firm.

Kelley used to work at the firm.

Friday’s hearing will begin at 1:15 p.m. and will likely include testimony from those involved.

“It’s going to be a very emotional day,” Kelley said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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