TV Judge Settles Five-Legged Dog Case

Freak show operator gets $4,000 but not the puppy

Thursday, Aug 13, 2009  |  Updated 6:37 AM CDT
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The extra leg that made Lilly freak show material has been removed and her new owner says she's doing fine.

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Thanks to a Chicago TV judge, a Coney Island freak show operator is up $4,000 but down a five-legged puppy.

Judge Jeanine Pirro ruled during a taping of her show Wednesday that freak show owner John Strong is entitled to the cash after the dog's owner backed out of a contract to sell the Chihuahua-terrier mix to him.

Calvin Owensby agreed to sell the five-legged puppy formerly known as Precious to Strong on June 29. Strong sent Owensby $1,000, with a promise to deliver $2,000 more when Precious got to New York.

But Owensby, an unemployed electrician from Gastonia, N.C., balked days later after researching Strong online.

"I didn't know it was a freak show," a tearful Owensby told Pirro. "He said it was an amazing animal show."

After a flurry of media attention, Owensby said he got threatening phone calls, including one from a New York man who said only a freak would sell his dog to a freak show.

Strong's show has 27 odd animals, including a two-headed turtle named Pete and Repeat, a six-legged cow and an eight-legged pig.

Owensby was so spooked that when Allyson Siegel of Charlotte, N.C., offered to buy Precious for $4,000 to keep the dog from going to Strong, he accepted.

Siegel took Precious, renamed her Lilly and quickly had the extra leg removed. Owensby returned Strong's $1,000.

But Strong still wanted the dog -- or what Owensby made from her sale -- and sued for breach of contract.

Pirro agreed Strong was wronged.

"We've got a contract, and the defendant broke it, pure and simple," Pirro said.

She also sided with Strong in Owensby's countersuit for intentional infliction of emotional distress, ruling that while the situation was undoubtedly stressful, Strong couldn't be blamed.

Strong said after the taping that he's thrilled with the decision.

"This is such an emotional case, and it could've gone either way," he said. "I just wish I'd met Calvin before all this happened."

Owensby said he doesn't harbor any hard feelings and understands Strong is just doing his job.

Strong said once Pirro's show airs on Sept. 8, he'll sue Siegel to reclaim the dog _ despite her lack of an extra paw.

"I certainly am not chasing four-legged dogs around the world," he said. `"Because of the cuteness of the dog ... I would still like to have the dog.""

It probably also helps that he said his business has increased 60 percent since the story hit the news.

Lilly, meanwhile, is doing well at her new home.

"She is just a ball of fire," Siegel told a North Carolina TV station. "I hope she is going to have a normal life."

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