When Barry Myrick began working for M & M Environmental, a pest-control company in Queens, New York he was assigned an unusual piece of equipment – a bedbug sniffing dog named Roxy. Over the past five years, Myrick and Roxy lived and worked together, forming a powerful bond of love and friendship.
But in March something happened that changed everything. Myrick was laid off. A few months later he and his wife packed up Roxy and their other dog Robbie and relocated to Philadelphia. It was then that M & M contacted Myrick demanding he return Roxy to the company.
Taking her out of state was considered an act of theft as Roxy is technically their “property.”
Myrick was happy to return his uniform, company car, and credit card when he lost his job, but he never dreamed he would have to say goodbye to Roxy. He refused to give her back and M & M reported the dog stolen. Myrick now faces a complex custody battle as well as grand larceny charges.
According to Gary Port, M & M’s lawyer, the company did not ask Myrick to return Roxy in March because he led them to believe he would eventually be returning to work. Myrick also signed an agreement at the start of his employment acknowledging the dog as company property.
Last month, a Queens judge rejected M and M’s demand for Roxy’s return, ruling it is in her best interest to stay with the Myrick family while the case plays out. This is the same standard used in custody fights over pets when couples get divorced. Port says the ruling could lead to similar battles over guide dogs and police dogs.
“I don’t think the judge really thought through the ramifications when he decided that he was going to look at divorce law as opposed to ownership of animals. Working dogs are used all over the place,” he told Spectrum News NY1.
For now, Roxy is home in Philadelphia and Myrick’s friends have organized social media and GoFundMe campaigns to assist in his court battle.
“Maybe other things will happen that aren’t in my favor, but I don’t care about those things as long as I know she’s not going anywhere I’m gonna feel like we won,” he said.
M & M is appealing the judge’s ruling. They do not plan to let such a valuable piece of equipment go without a fight. As for the criminal grand larceny charge against Myrick, the Queens DA did not respond to NY1’s request for comment.
Although M & M Environmental technically “owns” Roxy, the Myrick family has loved and cared for her for over five years. Who do you think the courts should declare Roxy’s rightful owner?
H/T & Featured Screenshot via Spectrum News NY1