Ex-couple’s wild court brawl over dog
A former couple's bitter battle to take custody of their pricey pomeranian puppy has hit court.
Siwen Chang and Maurice Chow lawyered up and headed to Melbourne Magistrates Court earlier this year over their two-year-old dog named Kobe.
The court heard Ms Chang and Mr Chow broke up in November 2019 and the dog had been in her custody since then.
Despite that, Mr Chow argued he deserved custody of the dog and Ms Chang had taken Kobe without his consent when they broke up.
Mr Chow asked the court to return the dog to him, arguing he was the rightful owner.
However Ms Chang argued she was the rightful owner and that Mr Chow had given her the dog as a gift.
Magistrate Meghan Hoare ruled in favour of Ms Chang, dismissing Mr Chow's claim.
The court heard Ms Chang and Mr Chow lived together at a Southbank apartment and were in an intimate relationship from around June 2017.
After being together for some time, Ms Chang began to ask Mr Chow to buy her a dog.
Mr Chow initially resisted her, ignoring her requests to buy a puppy as a gift.
Text messages given to the court showed Ms Chang repeatedly sending her boyfriend photos of puppies.
"Bday gift please," she wrote, to which he replied, "no pets baby".
In another message, after Ms Chang had sent a screenshot of a rescue dog to Mr Chow, he wrote, "Daddy is busy making money. No time for a doggy like this".
The couple repeatedly spoke about getting a dog.
In another text exchange, Ms Chang sent a number of heart emojis before writing, "Buy me a dog lol".
Mr Chow replied, "lol, (laughing emoji), yes madam".
"I just want a dog," Ms Chang responded, adding in a number of kissing and puppy emojis to the end of her text.
"I know," Mr Chow replied, with a kissing emoji.
Eventually, Ms Chang started putting her foot down.
"Can you stop being a pain in the bum bum (sic) and get us a god damn cutie dog," she wrote.
Ms Chang told the court she was unable to buy a dog herself because she could not afford it and Mr Chow was earning four times what she did.
The couple decide to buy a dog
Around January 2018, the couple started looking for a dog and researched what breed they wanted.
Both Ms Chang and Mr Chow told the court Ms Chang had done most of the research because her boyfriend was busy at work.
Eventually, the couple decided on a pomeranian.
"That's why I need a white one. I know what I like," Mr Chow said in one text.
"I don't want breeds to be loud. Or dependent. Too noisy. And demanding," he added.
By September 2018, after Ms Chang found a breeder, the couple bought the dog from NSW.
Ms Chang chose the dog's name.
Mr Chow told the court it was untrue that the dog was purchased as gift for Ms Chang.
He had he wanted a dog himself and there was never a discussion of the dog being a gift, he said.
The couple did not dispute it was Mr Chow who had paid the breeder the $4300 needed to purchase the dog.
Despite Mr Chow paying, the receipt from the breeder stated the money had come from Ms Chang.
In October 2018, Kobe moved into the couple's Southbank apartment.
Ms Chang took two weeks off work to help the dog settle into his new home.
In November 2018, Ms Chang resigned from he full-time job, which she told the court was so she could become Kobe's primary carer.
In cross-examination, she denied the true reason she gave up work was because of issues with management in the workplace.
Ms Chang arranged vaccinations and vet checks and paid for items related to the dog's care and wellbeing.
Ms Chang shared group texts with friends regarding "my puppy' and created numerous social media posts about Kobe arriving.
In one social media post, she wrote she "had been waiting for this moment for so long".
By the time the dog arrived, Mr Chow's work schedule had calmed down and he was able to spend more time with the dog.
He, like Ms Chang, taught the dog tricks, attended vet checks and paid for toys and things and Kobe needed.
By November 13, 2019, Mr Chow and Ms Chang's relationship had broken down.
On that day, Ms Chang left their Southbank home and took all of her possessions, including Kobe.
Ms Chang told the court that when she was packing her things, Mr Chow had begged her not to take Kobe.
She said she did not take with her other gifts from Mr Chow such as a mobile phone and a laptop.
On November 14 of that year, Ms Chang, without being requested by Mr Chow to do so, transferred $4300 into the account of Mr Chow.
Ms Chang denied to the court she paid Mr Chow the money because she knew Kobe was his property.
Instead, she said she paid him the original sum used to buy the dog because she did not want him to "lose face", or think she had taken advantage of him.
She also told the court she didn't want to owe him anything.
Mr Chow texted his ex-girlfriend on November 13, 2019 and demanded she return Kobe.
His solicitors then sent her a letter on November 20, 2019 and on December 4, 2019, asking the dog to be returned.
Ms Chang had multiple documents, including a NSW ID for Kobe, an Australasian Animal Registry Registration Certificate, and an Australian National Kennel Council Certificate, that all listed her as the owner.
Mr Chow told the court he wanted Kobe back because "he loved him and that it was unfair for Ms Chang to have the dog which he had purchased".
He also conceded the registration documents for Kobe were in Ms Chang's name because she had dealt with the breeder, she took care of the household administration and he was too busy with his business.
Magistrate Meghan Hoare ruled in favour of Ms Chang, saying her version of events were "more probable".
"I find that Mr Chow purchased the dog at her request and to accede to a dearly held wish of hers in the context of a then loving relationship," she concluded.
"I find, on the evidence, in spite of Ms Chang's pleas to be given a dog, Mr Chow was resistant to the idea of acquiring a dog but ultimately acceded to her request saying playfully 'yes madam' and 'Can you stop being a pain in the bum bum and get us a god damn cutie dog'.
"In my opinion ... it is simply implausible that he purchased the dog for himself intending Ms Chang merely to have enjoyment of it."
Originally published as Ex-couple's wild court brawl over dog