COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- It's your money, and two confiscated dogs are costing you more than $16,000 and counting. Collier County and the owners are locked in a dispute over whether or not the dogs are dangerous.
Abigail and Lola are Collier County Domestic Animal Services costliest guests, by a long shot.
DAS confiscated them from their owners, John and Cheryl Duren, two years ago, after an alleged attack on a neighbor.
"If DAS feels that the owner is not able or willing to contain the animals, we can elect to house it here to keep the community safe during the process," Collier DAS Executive Director Amanda Townsend said.
More than 850 days later, the duo's racked up more than $16,500 in care and costs to the shelter, as the couple appeals the "dangerous dog" classification.
DAS says they're willing to downgrade the debt to a hard cost of about $991...a deal they say the Duren's turned down.
"They have never, ever taken the approach that they didn't owe the money. The only thing they've ever said is we don't have the money," said attorney Colleen MacAlister, who is representing the Duren's.
MacAlister is taking on the Duren's case pro-bono. She says the couple's out of work and have made multiple attempts to stop the mounting fees. They want to make monthly payments as their pending appeal works through the court system.
"It seems that holding the dogs hostage to an appeal process was a bit unfair. But that has kind of been the situation all along," MacAlister said Monday.
The Duren's now live in North Florida, and fear the bitter battle could end in euthanasia.
"It's like killing one of our kids. That's what it would be like. I'll tell you what, we may be out of the area and everything, but I'll fight tooth and nail until I can't fight any more," John Duren said over the phone on Monday.
Collier County Commissioners will discuss what's next for the dogs during a meeting on October 25th.
In the meantime, MacAlister says she's received calls from anonymous donors willing to help contribute money toward the dogs release.