Dog left outside during polar vortex taken by police, sparking legal battle

A legal battle is brewing downstate over the fate of Maverick the dog, who was taken into custody under a new state law meant to protect pets if law enforcement officers believe they are in danger.

Just before the worst of the polar vortex hit on Tuesday, neighbors noticed Maverick outside as usual, and called police over concern for his life. He's usually kept outdoors, and while his owner insists he's cared for, authorities disagreed.

"If you see an animal, now you can call law enforcement and they`re able to act under this law to take an animal out," said Heather Owen, One Tail at a Time. "So it's a lifeline for pets for animals outside that are in a very bad situation."

Owen says new state law allow dogs like Maverick to be taken into temporary protective custody.

"It's temporary fix and that's important because it's not like people are getting their dogs taken away and they can't get them back. They still have due process under this law," Owen said,

For now, Maverick being cared for at the Knox County Humane Society.

"He's very loving, he's very playful. He deserves a better life," Knox County Humane Society Board Member Rox Parks said.

A story about Maverick being outside was shared nearly 2,000 times, and neighbors say they're happy they spoke up and action was taken.

"We've had a lot of public outcry saying do not give this beautiful dog back," Parks said.

While the legal battle is just beginning over where Maverick will end up, it's the first major test of a new law aimed at helping animals in the state.

"I would hope that Maverick`s owners would work with the community and law enforcement to agree on a safe space for him, somewhere he can go when it's warm or there's another inclement weather because all animals deserve a warm home, a warm bed," Owen said.

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