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A dog handler is fighting with a former employer for the right to keep the canine co-worker, best friend, and devoted companion he’s shared his heart and home with for the past 5 years, even choosing jail time over giving up the pup.
Barry Myrick had been working for NYC’s M&M Environmental as a canine handler for 4 years when the pandemic hit, forcing the company to cut back on operations.
When he was hired, Myrick was paired with Roxy, a then 1-year old, recently trained bedbug detection dog. When they were paired, the pit bull came from her training facility in Florida directly to Myrick’s home in New York, where the pair began living and working together for the next 4 years.
In March, 2020, pandemic-related shutdowns led to Myrick being laid off from his job at M&M. Myrick returned the company car, job equipment, credit cards, and all other company property—except Roxy. Barry told the New York Post that a manager had said to him, “You’re going to keep Roxy, right?”
Three months later, in June of 2020, the company reached out to Myrick asking for Roxy to be returned. He denied their request and sought legal help. In July, M&M Environmental filed grand larceny charges, alleging that Roxy was stolen. In August, he was served with a civil lawsuit.
Upon being served, Myrick reported to the NYPD to answer to the criminal charges. He was jailed for 15 hours.
To Myrick, Roxy was never a piece of equipment, she is family. She’s joined the Myricks on family vacations and regular hikes, sleeps alongside the Myricks and their other dog in the only home she’s known for almost 5 years. Myrick even has a tattoo of the beloved dog on his leg. And, as every dog owner knows, caring for a dog involves so much more than food and vet bills.
However, the company sees things differently. M&M paid up to $15,000 for the trained bedbug-detection dog. In addition, the company paid for food and veterinary care for the duration of Myrick’s employment at the company and claim that when Myrick was laid off in March of 2020, they expected to rehire him by June. But, in May of 2020, Myrick and his wife, along with Roxy, moved from NYC to Philadelphia for health and financial reasons.
Although an employment contract signed in 2016 says that if he is to be terminated or no longer employed by M&M, he woud return Roxy, Myrick and his attorney, William J. Kurtz, say that the company violated the terms of the contract when they laid him off, didn’t ask for her back, and made no arrangements for her care for the months that followed.
Attempting to fight a legal battle in the midst of unemployment and a pandemic, Myrick and his supporters started a GoFundMe campaign for help. M&M filed a motion for injunction, once again demanding Roxy’s return and the shutdown of the GoFundMe campaign and the FightForRoxy Instagram account. The judge denied M&M’s injunction, resolving that it was in Roxy’s best interest to continue living with Myrick while the case plays out.
Today, M&M and Myrick are still deep in their legal battle and Roxy’s future remains uncertain. But, Barry and his wife are determined, at any cost, to keep their family together.