Stacey Champion attempted to explain in a hearing this morning why she deserved to get her puppy back, after getting caught trying to mail it to Georgia in a sealed Priority Mail box.
It was the first time she publicly defended her decision to try to mail the black Schnauzer-poodle.
"I just want to send the puppy to my son for his birthday," she told the court officer. "Everyone makes mistakes."[jump]
Back in January, Champion brought the package into a downtown Minneapolis post office and asked to send it Priority Mail. When the clerk asked her what was inside, Champion told her it was a toy robot bound for her son in Atlanta. She paid $22 in shipping and left.
When the box started making noise and moving around, postal workers got suspicious. One of them listened carefully and heard panting inside.
The workers called United States Postal Inspector Jesse Swanson and told him they were pretty sure there was a dog inside. They even held the receiver up so Swanson could hear. When the clerk told him the sounds were getting weaker and the panting slower, he gave her permission to open the package.
Inside they found "Guess," an adorable four-month-old puppy. He was a little hot, but otherwise just fine.
If Guess had made it past workers, on the other hand, he likely would have died without food, water, or air and after being manhandled during the delivery process.
The story got international attention, even driving other animal-loving Stacey Champions around the country nuts with the amount of outrage it generated. Offers have poured in to adopt the dog.
Undaunted, Champion insisted on the getting the dog back. This morning, she got time in front of a hearing officer to make her case.
Swanson backed up the city's case for keeping Guess, producing the box Champion used. He said it appeared to have a few air holes punched in, though they were completely sealed with packing tape.
"This is the first time I've ever heard of a puppy being mailed," Swanson said.
Then Champion arose to say she still wants to get the animal to her son for his 11th birthday. She argued that she'd paid all the appropriate fees.
"For them to deny me of my pooch, I'm really hurt," she said.
The hearing officer was in the unenviable position of asking what Champion was thinking. He got less than enlightening answers.
Did she really tell the clerk the box contained a toy robot? Yes, Champion admitted.
"The lady, she was--just kept throwing the box around so I just told her it was a toy robot," she said.
Did she lie, the officer prodded further, because she knew it was wrong to mail a dog?
"No, your honor," Champion said.
So much for hindsight.
What happened next likely came as a shock to no one but Champion. The hearing officer called the act "disgraceful."
"You can't tell me you thought you were doing the right thing," he told her.
He ordered that Guess remain in the custody of the city. If Champion decides not to appeal or fails to pay a daily fee for Guess's care, he'll go up for adoption. So many people have expressed interest in Guess that his new owner's name will have to be picked out of a hat.
As for Champion, she's facing animal cruelty charges and still seems to believe that she's the victim here.
"Can I get my box?" she asked as she got up to leave.
No. She couldn't have that either.