Everyone Is Fighting Over This Fancy Dog's Sperm

Beau Lemon, the cranky little cotton ball pictured above, was neutered in July 2013 and a bunch of midwesterners are losing their minds.

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Beau (née Victoire Gerie’s No Lemon Gemstone) is fairly accomplished — when he retired in 2012 at the ripe old age of three, he had risen through the ranks of professional dog showing to become the second best bichon frisé in the United States. That said, his owners Mary and John Wangsness (who had purchased the dog for $3,000 in 2009) envisioned at least seven years of letting him sleep around and produce more potentially award-winning, undoubtedly money-earning puppies.

However, a lawsuit filed in Ramsey County, Minnesota alleges that those dreams were dashed when Beau’s breeder Vickie Halsted had the dog secretly fixed in an act of “vengeance” after the Wangsnesses attempted to breed the dog twice without Halstead’s permission.

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Halstead’s attorney claims that she had to “rescue” Beau from the Wangsnesses’ neglect, which had led to “dental disease, a low sperm count, impacted anal glands, and a matted and unhealthy coat.”

The Star Tribune reports:

The suit seeks more than $50,000 in damages, but there’s more at stake — about eight vials of what’s believed to be Beau’s frozen semen, estimated to be worth $3,000 each.

The semen is allegedly being held under Halstead’s name at an Inver Grove Heights veterinary clinic. She allegedly has profited from two sales, but John Wangsness wants ownership of it. “Damn right, they’re mine,” he said...

Under Halstead’s guidance, the Wangsnesses invested about $94,000 to further Beau’s show career, Leventhal said. Although they treated Beau as a pet, they also expected to have the option of breeding him several times a year at a rate of $2,000 to $3,000 per breeding until he turned 10.

“After hearing about the neutering, and I’m not overstating things at all, Mary literally cried and stayed in bed for three weeks,” said Wangsness of his wife who died this past March. “She never bounced back.”

He continued: “I would like some vindication for the emotional distress that happened to Mary as a result of [the neutering.]”

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Somebody give this lawsuit an arc on The Good Wife!

Update: This case has been settled in undisclosed terms.


Contact the author at joanna@jezebel.com.

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DISCUSSION

not-a-people-person
Not a "People" Person

I’ve been thinking a lot about the politics and ethics of pedigree breeding lately. I just started volunteering at a local animal shelter and the weird obsession people have with breeds is difficult to accept. It’s one of the first questions people ask, and they’re not looking for breed-specific illnesses or genetic predispositions either.

About 1/3 of the dogs that come through are pedigrees, but another third are pit-bull types that are often stuck for weeks or months waiting for someone to take them home, and for the most part they have the same or less bahavioral or training issues than the purbreds. But people will take a chance on a Labrador or a Shepard more easily than they will on a Pitty, or a mutt that doesn’t look like a cartoon character. The other day someone flat-out told me they would never get a Pitty, not because they thought they were dangerous, but because people were always stopping them to tell them how handsome their husky mix was, and “Why would you want a dog that doesn’t even look nice?”

I’ve known good, responsible and caring breeders, but they sure as shit weren’t making thousands of dollars off a single vile of sperm. A dog is not a status symbol, and that counts at boths ends of the economic spectrum. These people are better than puppy-mill operators or backyard breeders, but frankly it’s not by much.