Lawsuit: Islip animal shelter adopted out man’s dog despite attempts to reclaim it

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A Brentwood man filed a lawsuit against an Islip animal shelter for adopting out his dog despite his attempts to reclaim it.

Clifton Benjamin, a dog trainer and TSA K-9 handler, claims his dog Eto, a Belgian Malinois, was secretly adopted out of the Town of Islip animal shelter for a large sum of money after it went missing in 2018.

Benjamin says he reached out to the shelter multiple times after he got word of where the dog was. He says the shelter asked for proof of ownership and identification on the dog, which he says he gave, but they still refused to give the dog back. 

According to the lawsuit, Benjamin says after a month of multiple calls, emails, talking to shelter employees and the town attorney, he was told Eto was adopted.

The lawsuit also claims that the shelter neutered Eto, which Benjamin’s attorney says prevents him from breeding the expensive and highly sought-after dog. Some Belgian Malinois sell for upward of $40,000.

In a statement to News 12, a spokesperson for the town supervisor says, "There were multiple claims for the dog, none of whom could prove ownership. The plaintiff had no physical paperwork in his name, and what he did have, included inaccurate information, including a chip number that did not match the chip number in the dog."

Benjamin's attorney says the town has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit.

"Their own actions make no sense, he came in almost immediately, provided every kind of proof, if that proof was not sufficient, they should have said we need more proof,” said his attorney.

An Islip spokeswoman tells News 12 that Eto was adopted by a retired New York City police officer with no relationship to the Town of Islip. She also called the lawsuit “frivolous” and said that it will be vigorously defended.


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