Last week we wrote about a famous Tennessee trial that caught the attention of the country and had a connection to Trousdale County.
This week we write about another trial that was reported across the nation and again had a Trousdale County connection. It happened right here in Hartsville and the case went, quite literally, “to the dogs!”
In March 1976, a former resident of Hartsville was living in retirement in San Jose, Calif. They were reading their weekly copy of the San Jose Mercury, when a headline caught their attention.
The headline read, “Dog Becomes Bone of Contention” and the byline on the article plainly read, “Hartsville, Tenn.”
We quote from the ensuing article:
“Following arguments over a “writ of dogus corpus” and a “doggone motion”, ‘Dino’ the dog has a new master!
Mr. C. Gregory, a retired telephone company employee, figures that ownership of ‘Dino’ has cost him about $700.
Little did ‘Dino’ know the trouble he would cause when he decided just over a month ago to leave his home at the M. Williams residence to go for a walk.
‘Dino’ scampered into the hands of Gregory, who was mourning the loss of a similar dog. Gregory picked up ‘Dino’ and took him home, saying he thought at the time that ‘Dino’ had been lost or abandoned.
As the days went by, Gregory and his wife were lavishing ‘Dino’ with affection and treating him to shampoos and visits to the veterinarian.
Williams found out through a friend where ‘Dino’ was and promptly paid the Gregorys a visit. Gregory and his wife had become very attached to the dog and offered to buy ‘Dino,’ but Gregory and Williams were unable to agree on a price.
Williams then signed a warrant for the recovery of ‘Dino,’ and Trousdale County Sheriff Charles Robinson “repossessed” the dog and held him in the county jail for three days until the custody fight ended with a hearing in general sessions court.
Gregory hired James Donoho, attorney and Hartsville mayor, to represent him. Donoho jokingly filed a “writ of dogus corpus” claiming that the jailing of ‘Dino’ constituted “cruel, unkind and unlawful constrainment.”
Not to be outdone, attorney Frank Farrar filed a “doggone motion” that he be appointed attorney for ‘Dino,’ claiming “said defendant is down to his last bone and has no other assets other than a worn-out flea collar.”
Judge Robert Bradshaw heard neither motion.
The case was settled after Gregory and his wife agreed to purchase the dog for $200 and pay court costs and all attorneys’ fees. Gregory said the total tab, including bills he paid at the vet, ran about $700.”
The former resident of Hartsville found it amusing that a case from his hometown was written up in his local California newspaper. But having known James Donoho from his years growing up here, he cut out the article and mailed it to him. Donoho then shared it with his family and friends, and a copy ended up with the Historical Society.
The case had been written up by a United Press International writer. United Press International, better known by its initials UPI, sends articles around the world to newspapers and TV stations. In this case the article, due to its inherent silliness, was subsequently run by newspapers all across the nation, including the weekly paper in San Jose, California.
James Donoho was known locally for his friendly nature and sense of humor.
Even so, it was more than amusing that after a career as a lawyer and serving as Hartsville’s mayor, the one time he got written up in the papers around the globe was when he tried to settle a dispute over a dog named Dino.
While we intentionally left out the first names of the concerned parties, lest they or their descendants are publicity shy, Dino was the name of the dog and he will forever go down in history for his brief 15 minutes of fame. We presume he continued to live a long and happy — and probably spoiled — life with Mr. and Mrs. Gregory.