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Recovery timeline uncertain for Cober's Canine Rescue dogs during legal process

Under law, the dogs found in poor conditions in Lisa Cober's Norton Shores home are currently considered her property.

MUSKEGON, Mich. — Lisa Cober of Cober's Canine Rescue now faces a charge of abandoning and cruelty to 25 or more animals after nearly 80 dogs were found in her Norton Shores home in poor and unsanitary conditions.

Norton Shores police seized the dogs earlier this week, with several local shelters now stepping in to care for them. With Cober's legal proceedings playing out, however, it may take time to fully relocate the dogs.

"I think the timer a lot depends on if Lisa Cober's going to release these dogs to the rescues," Big Lake Humane Society Executive Director Alexis Robertson said.

Under Michigan law, the dogs are considered Cober's property. For them to be re-adopted, custody would need to be given up willingly or the judge presiding over the court proceedings could grant a forfeiture action currently being filed by the Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office.

"We're currently in the process of filing an action to have [the dogs] forfeited so that they can be properly cared for at that point," said Chief Trial Attorney at the Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office Matt Roberts. "But they have been seized. They're not under her care at the current time."

In addition to property rights, other factors in the case could come into play. Bee Friedlander, president of the Michigan-based non-profit Attorneys for Animals, said that the dogs' own presence in case could further complicate their recovery.

"The other thing to remember is they are evidence now if there is a criminal case brought the animals themselves are evidence," Friedlander said. "So that impacts the the ability to fly bind them permanent homes."

Roberts said the next step in the legal process is Cober's preliminary examination expected in the coming weeks. From there, he said it could be anywhere between a month to six weeks before the circuit court hearing when it will be determined if the case will go to trial.

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