NEW YORK – Barry Myrick loves Roxy, the pit bull terrier he has lived with and cared for for five years. Roxy is trained to sniff out bed bugs. Myrick began taking care of her when they both worked for a pest control company in Queens, M and M Environmental.
“I feel like people understand how much you can really love a dog and how much they can love you too,” he tearfully told us on a Zoom call.
Myrick was laid off after the March pandemic. He returned his company uniform, car, and credit cards, but was not asked to return Roxy.
What you need to know
- Barry Myrick lived and worked for nearly five years with Roxy, a dog that sniffs bed bugs
- M and M Environmental wants Roxy back, saying she is valuable company property
- A lawyer for the company said the company always believed Myrick and Roxy would be back to work
- A judge has ruled that Myrick can temporarily keep Roxy while the civil case is ongoing
In May, Myrick, his wife, their dog Robbie and Roxy moved from Brooklyn to Philadelphia.
The company called for Roxy’s return and sparked a lawsuit. M and M see this as a case of stolen property.
“And we asked for something called a restraining order that will return the dog to us while the matter is pending because we can actually prove and undisputed that my clients own the dog,” said the company’s attorney, Gary Port.
M and M say the company initially didn’t check back about the dog because Myrick led them to believe that he would eventually work with Roxy again.
Myrick signed an agreement years ago that states that M and M will own the dog.
But his attorney, Bill Kurtz, says the company lost its right to Roxy by not immediately asking about the dog and not compensating Myrick for looking after the animal.
Friends have run social media and GoFundMe campaigns to support Myrick. He could use the help. When Myrick denied M and M’s request for Roxy, the company reported that Roxy had been stolen. The Queens Attorney’s Office charged him with theft.
Last month, a Queens judge denied M and M’s request for the dog to return while the case was up. The judge ruled, in part, that it was in Roxy’s best interests to live with Myrick for the time being – the same standard used in pet custody disputes in divorce cases.
M and M’s attorney says the ruling could lead to similar battles over guide dogs and police dogs.
“I don’t think the judge really thought about the ramifications when he decided to consider divorce law versus owning animals. Working dogs are used everywhere,” Port said.
It’s a relief to Myrick.
“Maybe other things will happen that are not in my favor but I don’t care about these things as long as I know it is not going anywhere. I will feel like we won,” he said.
An appeal is filed against the judgment. With regard to the criminal complaint, the Queens Attorney’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.