Man Loses Wife To Cancer & Now Must Go To Court To Keep Her Service Dog

A grieving husband is not only feeling the pain of losing his wife, but her beloved service dog as well. His wife’s dying wish was that Tootsie would remain in their family after she passed, and Paul will do anything to make that wish a reality.

Paul’s wife Britni struggled with a chronic and debilitating illness that made getting around extremely difficult. When researching ways to make her life a bit easier, she came across a wonderful solution; a service dog.

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Britni found an organization called Starfleet Service Dogs Inc. that was dedicated to pairing highly trained dogs with those that needed them. From the moment she was matched with a Sheepadoodle named Tootsie, they knew she was meant to be in their family forever.

Paul states that his wife spent thousands of dollars to continue Tootsie’s training from the moment she entered their home, as well as $141 monthly for a health care plan. Tootsie not only became a skilled service pup that had so much help to offer, but a treasured member of the Marinsky family.

In learning that Britni’s colon cancer was terminal, the family knew they needed to make sure that Tootsie could remain in Paul’s care after she passed. Losing his wife would be devastating, and Tootsie would be the only part of her that he had left.

service dog custody

The Marinsky’s contacted the Starfleet Service Dog company in hopes of being able to adopt her, and were initially met with a promising answer. They were told that while Tootsie was meant to be a service dog, there were options they could explore for their family.

“On Aug. 10, the day Brittani received the news that her cancer was terminal and made the decision to discontinue treatment, I called the CEO and founder of Starfleet. I asked her, ‘What do I need to do to keep Tootsie?’ She said Tootsie is meant to be a service dog. But there are options available, and we’ll have to talk about them.” – Paul Marinsky

Paul then offered to buy Tootsie to ensure that she could stay with him, and the CEO said they would discuss that possibility when it came. She then said he could spend as much time with Tootsie as he needed when his wife passed, as it would be a challenging time for him. Paul states that the owner never declined his offer to purchase Tootsie, and was initially understanding about the situation.

Paul had Tootsie for a couple of months after his wife’s passing when he was contacted by the Starfleet Service Dog organization. They stated that someone would be coming to collect Tootsie on December 4th, and that he would not be keeping her like he originally thought.

“I never outwardly told Starfleet that I’m not giving the dog back. I was trying to find an arrangement to keep her. I obviously want and desire to keep Tootsie. Anyone would want a dog that has been with them for nearly two years. I have cared for her, and I love her.” – Paul Marinsky

The situation escalated when Paul took Tootsie to Banfield for a minor ear infection and was immediately notified that Tootsie would not be going home with him. The vet stated that someone from Starfleet Rescue was contacted and that she would be leaving with one of their members that day.

service dog custody

A man soon arrived to take Tootsie away, leaving Paul absolutely shattered at the thought of losing his best friend. Paul states that he knelt on the ground in front of Tootsie saying his goodbyes, ensuring that he would see her again. He has not seen Tootsie since.

Paul has now entered into a heated legal battle with Starfleet in coming to an agreement on who legally owns Tootsie. Paul refuses to back down in the fight for his beloved companion and vows to not give up until Tootsie is back in his care.

“I’m in this for the long haul. This is going to continue until I get her back.”  – Paul Marinsky

We can’t even imagine the pain that Paul is going through in losing the two most important parts of his life. Do you think Paul should be able to keep Tootsie?

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