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Bizarre beagle story ends well

By Kay S. Pedrotti Marla Morris’s year-old purebred beagle, Boogie Bella Bleu, is back with Morris after an unexpected and unauthorized trip to Florida. Boogie’s strange story began Oct. 26 when Morris returned to her Greenwood Street home after a work shift to find her missing. Within 24 hours, she had learned that Ari LeBlond, a Crowder Street resident, had found the dog loose at First Baptist Church, picked Boogie up and posted a flyer with LeBlond’s name, phone and email, seeking to find the beagle’s owner. When Morris contacted LeBLond, LeBlond told her the dog would be returned when the two could arrange to meet. When Morris called to say she was coming for the dog, LeBlond’s boyfriend, Cory Buice, told Morris her dog had been taken to a truck stop on I-75 and Highway 36 and given to a truck driver. Morris said she called in Barnesville police, who investigated the incident but did not make any charges. Morris made pre-warrant applications to magistrate court accusing LeBLond, Buice, Johnny Newell and Michael Leverett of theft by taking. A hearing on the applications last Thursday resulted in denial of Morris’ four applications by Judge William Thomas, who explained there was not enough evidence of intent to deprive Morris of her property, a part of the Georgia code definition of theft by taking. Morris testified she believed the dog had been ‘from LeBlond and Buice to Newell, to Leverett and back to Newell,’ and that path was why she sought warrants for all four people. LeBlond and Buice were represented by local attorney Adam Nagel but Morris did not have counsel. Buice, who wore his U.S. Marine Corps dress blues to magistrate court, testified, ‘Ari froze up on the phone’ when Morris called because she and Buice knew the dog had been given away and did not know what to say. They had taken the dog to Newell at his place of business ‘because we couldn’t keep it there’ at their house, he said. Before they could reach Newell or Leverett to tell them the dog’s owner had been found, Buice said, the beagle was already gone. He said he tried to explain what happened to Morris but was constantly interrupted. Morris said she was very upset and continued to ask for the return of her dog. Morris, a law enforcement officer with Georgia Department of Public Safety, works primarily with truck traffic on I-75 and spread the word about her missing dog. A Florida truck driver named Daniel Tucker submitted an unverified statement to the court saying he received the dog from another trucker and had taken her for a veterinary exam. In the process, according to Morris, Boogie’s microchip was discovered and she subsequently got a call from Pet Watch that her dog had been found. The beagle was back home early last week. After the hearing Morris said she was pleased to have Boogie back but was not pleased with the outcome in magistrate court.

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