Where is James Patock's dog, Lobo?
As we reported last month, the former Arizonan last saw Lobo, his 10-year-old German Shepherd, when the United States Park Police were searching his trailer at the National Mall in Washington D.C.
Cops mistakenly believed his trailer was a giant bomb and searched it, finding three guns. Patock was jailed for 45 days and later convicted of two misdemeanors for possessing unregistered firearms. The case received plenty of attention after a man who used to live near Patock in Marana told the news media that Patock once said he'd like to shoot a president. Patock denies he ever said that, and he was never accused in D.C. of threatening anyone.
He's filed a federal defamation lawsuit against various media groups, the Park Police and others. In a motion he filed last week in his case, Patock again asks a judge to help bring back his pet, which was apparently given by authorities to a rescue group and adopted out.
"I wish they'd give me my dog -- I'd almost settle for that," he says.
Patock quotes a D.C. law in his motion that regulates the handling of animals for jailed suspects -- he says that law was violated by the Park Police.
Late last year, just after his release from jail, Patock says he learned that the Park Police transferred Lobo to the D.C. Department of Health. An assistant U.S. Attorney in D.C., Lara Worm, told him the health department had given Lobo to Virginia German Shepherd Rescue, Inc., and showed him an Internet listing for the animal.
Since then, he's been unable to get help from anyone, including the rescue company, about Lobo. He's had the dog since it was eight weeks old, and it has an embedded microchip that proves he owns it, he says.
The rescue group blew him off when he tried to locate Lobo -- something we can believe, since the group hasn't bothered to return our phone calls.
Sergeant David Schlosser of the Park Police refused to discuss the issue at all with us, citing Patock's $20 million lawsuit as the reason for his reticence. He wouldn't even talk about the agency's policy, in general, on the animals of jailed suspects.
Patock splits his time between a motel in Virginia and his trusty trailer. The history buff (who graduated from the University of Arizona a few years ago) says he'll be out of the area for the next week or so as he tours Civil War sites in the region. He's a retiree living on his savings and Social Security.
William Bickel, a physics professor at U of A who knows Patock, says he can hardly believe Patock got into trouble.
"It's just not like him," Bickel says. "I would trust my dog, my house, whatever, with him."
While Patock took his classes, Bickel says he and the retiree spent many hours chatting together in his office about scientific writing and physics. Patock "might be a weird fellow," but he was interesting and his scientific ideas were sound, Bickel says.
The professor says he doesn't know what Patock's former neighbor might have heard, but he can't believe Patock would express a desire to shoot anyone. He never heard Patock say anything that could be considered disturbing or violent, he says.
The conviction for unregistered guns, combined with the neighbor's statement to the media, "doesn't look too good," Bickel says.
But "whatever else he's done, give him the dog back," he says.
That's just what we were thinking.