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HILLSBORO, Ore. -- The custody battle over Obie, the overweight Dachshund played out in a Washington County courtroom Monday.

Obie s struggle to lose weight has made national headlines, including a segment on NBC s Today Show.

Nora Vanatta has been caring for the dog for the last few months, to help him slim down. She said the previous owners gave her the dog to care for.

Now the group, Oregon Dachshund Rescue wants to take Obie away from Vanatta, claiming that she s exploiting the dog in her foster care and that he actually belongs to them.

On Monday, the judge allowed Vanatta to keep Obie, at least for now, and said it was not clear if the pooch currently belongs to Vanatta or the rescue group. The person who transported the dog from his previous owners to Vanatta claimed to be a volunteer with Oregon Dachshund Rescue. However, that person did not actually file the official paperwork to volunteer with the rescue group until after the transfer, which was what the judge said made the legality of the ownership questionable.

We've had a victory in getting the dog to be able to stay with the proper home and continue to receive the care and attention Nora's been giving it, said James McCurdy, the attorney representing Vanatta.

She certainly acts like a foster and says the word 'foster' and everyone's in plenty agreement as to what a foster is, and then magically somehow she becomes the owner, argued Geordie Duckler with Oregon Dachshund Rescue.

As its next step, the rescue group said it will file paperwork asking an arbitrator to study the case and make a custody recommendation for the dog.

Kathy Hessler, an animal law professor at Lewis & Clark College told KGW that the rescue group may have a hard time proving it's case - especially regarding the alleged exploitation.

Exploitation is a concept that we think of for human beings; humans who can be shamed and who can be embarrassed and used for somebody else s end. Right now, unfortunately animals are property and they re used for other people s ends all the time, she explained.

Background: Rescue group demands Obie's return

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